The Mozart Effect
Can listening to Mozart really improve your child's IQ?
Shradha Sarogi, parent
The Mozart Effect suggests that your child can increase their
intelligence by listening to Mozart's music. It claims to have the
backing of scientific research and has generated a vast literature. It
sounds like a wonderful idea. However, it's not that simple.
Dr. Alexandra Lamont, University of Keele
In 1993 at the University of California, physicist Gordon Shaw
and Francis Rauscher, an expert on cognitive development, played the
first ten minutes of the Mozart Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major to a
group of college students. The result, they found, was a temporary
increase in the students' spatial-temporal reasoning, for about ten
minutes. The Mozart Effect was born.
Put simply, spatial-temporal reasoning is the ability to
visualise something in space that unfolds over time. Examples are:
estimating how a piece of paper will look unfolded, or reading a map.
In America, the notion has taken hold as parents have leapt at the opportunity to increase their child's intelligence with something as wholesome as classical music.
In Georgia, in 1998, the Governor, Zell Miller allocated
£105,000 for the creation of Build Your Baby's Brain Through
the Power of Music, an album of classical music on CD and tape
distributed to hospitals as a gift to new mothers.
But some experts are sceptical. Dr Alexandra Lamont, Lecturer
in Psychology at Keele University, says: "It's only ever been looked at
in adults, but all the people who jumped on it have tried to say, 'Ooh
we should do it with kids, we should do it with babies, we should do it
with unborn babies.' There's no evidence that just listening to music,
not learning to play an instrument, has any effect at all with children
or with babies."
Even so some British parents are convinced of the benefits.
Shradha Sarogi, mother of two girls, says: "'My father studied in
America and he reads a lot of books on child psychology. He told me to
listen to Mozart because it's very important. Especially when I was
pregnant. I got the music because I read about it that the beats of
Mozart, like it's 60 beats in one minute, coincide with the heartbeat
of the foetus. So it makes the child intelligent.
"They become more sharp. They respond more and they become
brighter. I play them any classical music, not the rap or the pop music
because I think that makes them very violent and disturbed."
In fact Mozart can be played at a variety of speeds, and some recorded rock music has 60 beats per minute. So, if the claims are true, some rock music should be equally effective in raising IQ.
The good news is that music lessons in childhood and
particularly before the age of seven can have a lasting effect on
children's development. Studies by Dr Rauscher and her colleagues in
Wisconsin, USA, have shown that piano lessons in particular seem to
help develop childrens' spatial-temporal intelligence.
But, she also says: "Whether music learning has an effect on other areas of intelligence is more up in the air."