Okay, in-tune parents – Today I’ll be your mythbuster.
Does the Mozart effect really work? Is classical music actually better for your babies? Will it make them geniuses?
I’m going to do my best to dive into this question. Plus, as a special bonus, I have been working on a classical music playlist that is perfect for your babies. Listen via the link at the bottom.
So the short answer to the question above is: NO.
BUT listening to classical music has been linked to plenty of brain benefits, including one big one. Keep reading to find out what …
Here’s some background: In 1993, a research study by three university professors discovered that children showed improve spatial reasoning when doing a pencil-and-paper maze task while listening to Mozart. However, the study has since been debunked. Others have found that the study was incomplete and the results inconclusive. So it’s not clear if classical music can make us smarter and it’s certainly not clear if it has to do with Mozart. In fact, one of the counter studies showed a similar effect when people listened to the band Blur. They called it “the blur effect.” (This makes me wonder: Is there a “Vered effect”?)
To recap: Research studies show that listening to classical music:
… does *not* tie to IQ.
… does tie to other benefits.
Note: For the most part, these were not tested on babies but we can infer that some of the same benefits will affect babies as well.
So what’s the upside of listening to Mozart and the like?
- It’s calms us..
Listeners have benefited from lower blood pressure, lower stress levels and less depression, according to research published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine (2000) and XYZ. (Add links/sources.)
- It makes us emotional.
This one is a big one for us parents. If our focus is on attachment and on developing unauthentic and engaged relationship with our babies, perhaps listening to classical music can help us do that. So it’s worth looking at the results of this study, which showed that when listeners heard classical music in the background their writing was more emotionally vulnerable.
- It helps us fall asleep.
Before bedtime, classical music has been shown to encourage rest in a 2008 study on nursing students.
- It helps our memories.
College students were shown to remember their lecture material better when they listened to the lecture with classical music playing in the background, according to this 2012 study. Again, the problem here is that we don’t know how much the students would remember if they had listened to, say, my music.
- It improves concentration.
Both mood and concentration improved among radiologists of a 2009 study when they listened to Baroque music in their reading rooms.
But here’s the catch-
While the studies above found these results with Classical music, they did not control with other types of music.
This study did. They showed that listening to Classical music reduced stress after doing an arithmetic task more than silence or Jazz.
So should you be turning on Bach instead of Bieber to make your baby smarter? Or Vivaldi instead of Vered? There is not enough evidence to say.
But we do know this: Children who PLAY music have improved hearing sensitivity.
Just last year, researchers published a study that showed that children who learned to play piano were much more able to detect the sounds of consonants, vowels and pitch. This makes sense because learning an instrument involves so many skills – note reading, understanding a language and translating it to our movements and to the mechanics of the instrument we are playing.
Classical music tends to have more complex chord progressions and chord structures so playing it develops this skill even more than other types of music.
So how do we make sense of this and put this all together?
The more you listen to classical music at home, the more you will be familiarizing your baby with this music, and the more your baby will grow to love it.
Eventually when they’re old enough to play an instrument they might even gravitate toward one of those pieces.
And PLAYING classical music is definitely beneficial.
Of course that doesn’t mean you should turn off your other types of music. Variety will only benefit your little maestros.
Here is a little playlist to get you started. Keep in mind that I have a soft spot for saddish piano pieces, lone cellos, and fast moving guitars.
So tell me – have you felt calmed/vulnerable/sleepy/focused after listening to classical music? Comment here if you’ve experienced the proven results of this musical genre firsthand.
Do you know a parent who’s on the fence about playing classical music for baby? Forward them this email for the science behind it all.