several reports have noted significant associations among phonological awareness, early reading skills, and music perception skills in young children. We examined whether music processing skills differentially predicted reading performance in a broad age range of 69 children with and without formal music training. Pitch perception was correlated with phonological awareness, a finding consistent with the hypothesis that basic auditory processing skills underlie the association between music and reading abilities. Nevertheless, the correlation between music skills and reading skills was affected by the presence of formal music training: pitch discrimination predicted reading ability only in children without formal music training. Studies examining the association between music perception and reading (and perhaps other cognitive domains as well) should not ignore the factor of music training.
The preferences of 2- and 4-month-old infants for consonant versus dissonant two-tone intervals was tested by using a looking-time preference procedure. Infants of both ages preferred to listen to consonant over dissonant intervals and found it difficult to recover interest after a sequence of dissonant trials. Thus, sensitivity to consonance and dissonance is found before knowledge of scale structure and may be based on the innate structure of the inner ear and the firing characteristics of the auditory nerve. It is likely that consonance perception provides a bootstrap into the task of learning the pitch structure of the musical system to which the infant is exposed.