classical music for your baby, your toddler and even your
"bun in the oven" and your child will grow up to
be more intelligent.
This widely circulated advice, dubbed the "Mozart Effect,"
has become a mantra for many new parents. And its premise
has spurred the creation of an entire line of CDs, DVDs, books
and other media all based on the topic of how to make your
kids smarter by having them listen to classical music.
The "Mozart Effect" -- the idea that playing
classical music will make your baby smarter -- is based
on a study of college students.
Where did the "Mozart Effect" begin?
In 1993, psychologist Frances Rauscher published a study
in the journal Nature (Nature. 1993 Oct 14;365(6447)) titled
"Music and Spatial Task Performance."
The study involved 36 college students who listened to 10
minutes of a Mozart sonata, a relaxation track or silence,
then were asked to complete several spatial reasoning tasks
(such as determining what a folded paper that was cut would
look like when it was unfolded).
The students who had listened to Mozart showed significant
improvement (about eight to nine spatial IQ points) in their
performance of some of the tasks.
From this study, the "Mozart Effect" was born,
and media coverage touting the benefits of classical music,
not just for college students, but for babies, children and
Is the "Mozart Effect" All Hype?
A 1999 review of numerous subsequent studies found that none
could verify the findings of the original 1993 study, according
to a report by Stanford University, which attempted to explain
why this study was singled out, and why the finding became
In fact, after the "Mozart Effect" became widely
publicized (Stanford researchers found that "Music and
Spatial Task Performance" was cited in the top 50 U.S.
newspapers 8.3 times more than the second-most popular paper
at that time) several states passed laws that required state-subsidized
childcare centers to play classical music. Others passed laws
to give all new mothers a classical music CD in the hospital
after giving birth.
The Stanford researchers theorized that the study appealed
to people's anxieties and obsessions with their child's education.
Fun Classical Music for Kids
Most kids love music, and classical is no exception.
The following CDs are an ideal mix of fun, culture and
inspiration to introduce your children to classical
"It seems to be a circumscribed manifestation of a widespread,
older belief that has been labeled 'infant determinism,' the
idea that a critical period early in development has irreversible
consequences for the rest of a child's life," the Stanford
researchers said. "It is also anchored in older beliefs
in the beneficial powers of music."
Even the study's original author, Frances Rauscher, now an
associate professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh,
seems to believe the study's results were blown out of proportion.
"I would simply say that there is no compelling evidence
that children who listen to classical music are going to have
any improvement in cognitive abilities," Rauscher said
in Scientific American. "It's really a myth, in
my humble opinion."
Classical Music DOES Have Benefits
Classical music, it seems, may not turn your child into a
genius, but it does have many
Among them is a positive influence on crime. In London, England,
when the British Transport Police piped classical music into
London Underground stations in some of the area's most dangerous
neighborhoods for six months, they found that:
Robberies were cut by 33 percent
Staff assaults decreased by 25 percent
Vandalism went down 37 percent
Soothing music like classical is also known to reduce stress
and anxiety. One hospital study even found that heart patients
received the same anti-anxiety benefits from listening to
30 minutes of classical music as they did from taking the
in general is also known to be beneficial. According to
the American Music Therapy Association, music therapy can
be used to help:
Children, adolescents, adults and the elderly with mental
health needs, developmental and learning disabilities
Alzheimer's disease and other age-related conditions
Substance abuse problems
Acute and chronic pain, including mothers in labor
So while the effects on intelligence are still up in the
air, it does seem that playing some classical music for your
child could be a way to help them relieve stress, feel more
calm and just have some pure, simple enjoyment.
Why not test out the potential benefits in your own home,
and see if you or your child notices a difference?
Study Confirms It: Music is a Must for Your Good Health ...
and Your Brain
Singing Improves Your Health (Even if Other People Shouldn't
Hear You Singing)
September 13, 2007
Report February 2, 2005