All of these skills, the ability to pay attention and focus, impulse control, flexible thinking, and remembering multiple things at once, or working memory, are executive functioning skills. These mental abilities help the brain process information efficiently. By practicing music, children and adults are also practicing and building executive function. In fact, one of the ways researchers think music training affects speech sound processing is by boosting cognitive function, including executive functioning skills.

Researchers have used various methods to measure executive functioning skills in children who are learning to play music. One study found that children who participated in just 20 days of music lessons did better on a test of impulse control than kids who did not. Another study found that children and young adults who play music scored higher on working memory tests than those who do not.