“Music is the electrical soil in which the spirit lives, thinks and invents.” –Ludwig van Beethoven
The “Mozart effect” was born in 1993 when a study by Gordon Shaw and Frances Rauscher found that just ten minutes of listening to Mozart can enhance your spatial-temporal intelligence. In the same year, a study by Lamb and Gregory of the University of Manchester found that beginner readers who had been exposed to more music were better at learning to read.
The reason for that seems to be linked to phonetics. From the study: “Children achieving high scores on pitch discrimination also did well on phonemic awareness and showed good reading performance.” A second study by Shaw and Rauscher found that preschoolers who were exposed to keyboard playing and singing lessons displayed a 34% improvement in spatial-temporal intelligence over a control group who had no exposure to music lessons.
A study by Martin F. Gardiner established the Kodaly method in which young children play rhythm games and sing songs which become increasingly difficult. This method helps first and second graders to excel significantly at math. It is thought that this is, in part, because it helps children to understand number lines.
What all these studies find is that learning music before the age of seven helps to enhance brain development. A German study found that 95% of musicians with perfect pitch started music lessons before the age of seven and have a planum temporale (that part of the brain responsible for pitch recognition) twice as large as their non-musical counterparts. Other studies found the corpus callosum and the right motor cortex (also responsible for music) are more developed in musicians.
Not only has music been linked to math and reading abilities, but it is also tied to improved language abilities, concentration and memory. The Johns Hopkins School of Education suggests that all schools integrate music into the classroom, especially in kindergarten and the early grades. They outline the many benefits of music as follows:
Music helps us learn because it will–
- establish a positive learning state
- create a desired atmosphere
- build a sense of anticipation
- energize learning activities
- change brain wave states
- focus concentration
- increase attention
- improve memory
- facilitate a multisensory learning experience
- release tension
- enhance imagination
- align groups
- develop rapport
- provide inspiration and motivation
- add an element of fun
- accentuate theme-oriented units
When choosing schools and kindergartens, make music lessons one of your top priorities. Encourage your schools to include music in the curriculum or take your child to private tutors for lessons. You can also play music at home and teach your children songs from the Kodaly method.
If your students are studying for an exam or working on a project or assignment, classics like Mozart can really help to enhance their ability to think outside of the box. Encourage them to listen to some Mozart just before walking into an exam so they will perform at their peak.