There is a substantial body of evidence that demonstrates links between language and music and between music and improved cognitive ability, particularly with regard to verbal and working memory, in both adults and children. However, there is often a mix of type of musical training and instrument used and use of musical notation. The research reported here uses a randomised controlled trial with 32 novice children, aged seven, learning to play the piano with both hands whilst reading music notation. The intervention was conducted in a school setting, each child receiving in total four hours of instruction. Results confirm previous findings that short-term music instruction improves working memory. Results also demonstrated that children with this musical training outperformed controls on a word identification measure. Overall, the results show evidence for a causal relationship between music learning and improvements in verbal skills. The significant differences occurred after only one term of instruction and were stable 3 months post-intervention.