With so many Chinese musicians on the world stage, it is tempting to make the link between musical ability and language structure, but researchers at the Rotman Research Institute in Toronto found that native Cantonese speakers with no musical training processed pitch in much the same way as trained musicians. The effect in Cantonese speakers was found to be even more marked than in those who spoke Mandarin.
“When we looked at tasks that involved the perception of music, tone language speakers performed very much like musicians,” study author Dr. Gavin M. Bidelman, assistant professor at the University of Memphis, told The Huffington Post.
I also think the written language encourages perception of pattern and speech encourages intuition (so few sounds are used, links and meaning must be made in a split second – does this help sight reading ability?).
Here is another article from five years ago.
Thanks to Kenneth Kwan for bringing this to my attention, at the same time as I was reading it! Now, where did I put that Cantonese phrase book?