Laurel Trainor, director of the McMaster University's Institute for Music and the Mind in Ontario, and David Gerry, a music educator and graduate student, said the study involved groups of babies and their parents who spent six months participating in one of two types of weekly music instruction.
All the babies had shown similar communication and social development and none had previously participated in other baby music classes.
One music class involved interactive music-making and learning a small set of lullabies, nursery rhymes and songs with actions. Parents and infants worked together to learn to play percussion instruments, take turns and sing specific songs.
In the other music class, infants and parents played at various toy stations while recordings from the popular Baby Einstein series played in the background.
"Babies who participated in the interactive music classes with their parents showed earlier sensitivity to the pitch structure in music," Trainor said in a statement. "Specifically, they preferred to listen to a version of a piano piece that stayed in key, versus a version that included out-of-key notes, while the passive listening infants did not show the same preferences."
The findings were published in the journals Developmental Science and Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.