The Mozart Effect:
What is it about?
A few years ago there was quite a bit in the newspaper and popular magazines about "The Mozart Effect." Many people believed that simply listening to the music of Mozart would raise their I.Q. and marketers went to work churning out CD's of Mozart's music for nearly every conceivable daytime and night-time task. As a professional musician and a musicologist, I had a little problem with that idea then and I still do. However, after talking with my friend
Don Campbell, author of "The Mozart Effect" I do understand that he did not try in any way to mislead the public into thinking that it does. His definition of "the Mozart Effect" is simply the use of any music at all for any healing purpose at all. That's a pretty widely encompassing concept. Because I did believe in this I submitted two stories from my own music medicine practice which he did subsequently incorporate into the book. Still, confusion exists and I thought it might be helpful to elucidate a little bit on some of the original research.
It is said that Albert Einstein was a mediocre student until he began playing the violin. "Before that, he had a hard time expressing what he knew," says Hazel Cheilek, orchestra director at Fairfax County's Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, a magnet school where more than a third of the students also play or sing in musical ensembles. "Einstein said he got some of his greatest inspirations while playing violin. It liberated his brain so that he could imagine." In the early 1700s, England's King George I also felt he would make better decisions if he listened to good music. Reportedly, Handel responded by composing his Water Music suites to be played while the king floated the Thames on his royal barge. Even Plato in ancient Greece believed studying music created a sense of order and harmony necessary for intelligent thought. Can music really make us think better?
In 1993, researchers at the University of California at
Irvine discovered the so-called "Mozart Effect" - that college
students who listened to ten minutes of Mozart's Sonata
for Two Pianos in D major K448 before taking an IQ test
scored nine points higher than when they had sat in
silence or listened to relaxation tapes. Other studies have
indicated that people retain information better if they
hear classical or baroque music while studying.
The most profound effects take place in young children,
while their brains literally are growing. This year, the
same researchers at Irvine's Center for Neurobiology of
Learning and Memory found that preschoolers who had
received eight months of music lessons scored 80 percent
higher on object-assembly tasks than did other youngsters
who received no musical training. That means the music
students had elevated spatial temporal reasoning--the
ability to think abstractly and to visualize physical forms and
their possible variations, the higher-level cognition critical to mathematics and engineering.
Music students continue to outperform their non-arts peers on the SAT,
according to the 1999 "Profiles of SAT and Achievement Test Takers" from The College Board.
Students with coursework in music study/appreciation scored 61 points higher on the verbal portion of the test and 42 points higher on the math portion than students with no coursework or experience in the arts.
Students in music performance scored 53 points higher on the verbal portion and 39 points higher on the math portion than students with no arts participation.
Mean SAT Scores for Students with Coursework or
Experience in Music - 1999
Music: Study or Appreciation
No Coursework or Experience
All of this to say "you be the judge" but listening to Mozart certainly won't hurt you. My point always is that making music is preferable to passive listening and that listening to live music is always preferable to listening to recorded music. Mozart will not, repeat WILL NOT raise your I.Q. but it might help you organize your thoughts better before taking a standardized test. Dr. Alfred Tomatis, with whom Don Campbell and I have both studied and who has researched the healing benefits of Mozart's music, recommends the Five Violin Concerti above all of Mozart's other music for healing properties. Please feel free to
write me with any questions you might have about Mozart or anything else related to music and healing.
If you want to learn more about
The Mozart Effect and how to use it for a better quality of life, get an
immediate download of Dr. Cash doing a live presentation for teachers of gifted
students on "The Mozart Effect."
About Author Dr.
Alice Cash: Helping people to use music for Healing and Wellness.
Dr. Cash stresses the use of music for health, learning, motivation,
relaxation, energy building, or well-being. She is known internationally
for her work with music and pregnancy, surgery, addictions, and
Alzheimer's disease. Dr. Cash can be reached through
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Mozart Effect; © Dr. Alice Cash
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