Music training for children with sensorineural hearing loss improves speech-in-noise perception

Chi Yhun Lo*, Valerie Looi, William Forde Thompson, Catherine M. McMahon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)
133 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: A growing body of evidence suggests that long-term music training provides benefits to auditory abilities for typical-hearing adults and children. The purpose of this study was to evaluate how music training may provide perceptual benefits (such as speech-in-noise, spectral resolution, and prosody) for children with hearing loss. Method: Fourteen children aged 6–9 years with prelingual sensorineural hearing loss using bilateral cochlear implants, bilateral hearing aids, or bimodal configuration participated in a 12-week music training program, with nine participants completing the full testing requirements of the music training. Activities included weekly group-based music therapy and take-home music apps three times a week. The design was a pseudorandomized, longitudinal study (half the cohort was wait-listed, initially serving as a passive control group prior to music training). The test battery consisted of tasks related to music perception, music appreciation, and speech perception. As a comparison, 16 age-matched children with typical hearing also completed this test battery, but without participation in the music training. Results: There were no changes for any outcomes for the passive control group. After music training, perception of speech-in-noise, question/statement prosody, musical timbre, and spectral resolution improved significantly, as did measures of music appreciation. There were no benefits for emotional prosody or pitch perception. Conclusion: The findings suggest even a modest amount of music training has benefits for music and speech outcomes. These preliminary results provide further evidence that music training is a suitable complementary means of habilitation to improve the outcomes for children with hearing loss.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1990-2015
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes


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