This paper outlines the results of a long-term study of 159 German-speaking primary school children. The correlations between musical skills (perception and differentiation of rhythmical and tonal/melodic patterns) and decoding skills, and the effects of musical training on word-level reading abilities were investigated. Cognitive skills and socioeconomic factors were controlled as covariates in all analysis. The experimental group received special musical training for 9 months. A comparison sample received alternative training (visual arts) for the same amount of time. Another comparison sample did not receive any additional classes during the study period. The results show that rhythmical abilities are correlated significantly positively with decoding skills (both reading accuracy and reading prosody). Tonal skills, however, were not correlated with reading skills. Additionally, the special musical training had a significant effect on reading accuracy in word reading, as analysis of covariance revealed. In this paper, implications for reading development are discussed.