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Importance of the Mozart Effect in Child Development

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Music
Wordcount: 3422 words Published: 8th Feb 2020

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From about five years old I was involved in some type of music activity at the St. Croix SDA School, which at the time was a bells chorale and recorder ensemble. I was also quite active in the children’s choir at my home church, Central SDA Church, as well. As time went on I took basic piano lessons in elementary school as well as my early high school years, but after my favorite piano teacher passed away, the late Mr. Austin Bowens, I gave up piano all together. My family wasn’t the most musical family, besides my parents being in the adult choir at church and my sister being in the youth choir. However, most of my close friends are musicians and they are very good at what they do so I always hung out with them, but I never played because I had given up playing the piano. In high school I started to play the clarinet and bass clarinet in the school band. It was a pretty cool experience and I liked the warm woody sound of clarinet. Not too long after I begin playing in the school band, my grandfather gave me one of his Alto saxophones that he used to play, and me loving to hear John Coltrane on the radio and Kenny G was excited to learn the saxophone. A quick side note; I love jazz but my parents (father especially) didn’t like for us to listen to anything that wasn’t Christian music or at the very least classical, but knowing what radio station played jazz in the evening I would always sneak and listen to it when they weren’t there. Now we’re back on track. I began playing the saxophone in the school band and had an excellent band teacher who knew his stuff. His expertise helped me not only develop my sight reading but my being able to play by ear as well, because he always pushed us to be the best. I remember like it was yesterday the joy I felt when he gave me the opportunity to play the 1st Alto saxophone part. I was extremely happy! When I graduated however, I wasn’t playing as much as I had been because I initially went to University of the Virgin Islands to study computer science. My parents thought it would be a good idea for me to study that since I’m into fixing and building computers, but I never enjoyed it eventually dropped out and started working. After a couple of years, I moved to the states for a couple of years to try and find my way and figure what I wanted to do with my life. I ended up in the national guard but before I even got to go to basic training, I was medically discharged after having an asthma attack. I then moved to Maryland with an old classmate who I grew up with and who plays piano and is a brilliant musician to this day. He was playing for churches while I was finding odd jobs to support myself. We were staying with a fellow seventh day Adventist lady who we knew from back home, but then one day she told us we had to go without any warning. We had no place to stay but I had a car, so we camped out in my car for a couple of days until a lady from the Sunday church who my friend played for offered for us to stay with her. After staying there a while, I moved to Florida to try and find work and possibly go back to school but during my time there I couldn’t find any place that would hire me. Eventually, after living a pretty bad lifestyle with using drugs and such, I moved back home and decided it was time for a change. I rededicated my life the Christ and went to a youth camp in Antigua and it changed my life. I fell in love with music again while there because we would always break out in song during those two weeks at camp. When I came back home, while watching 3abn I saw Oakwood University Church’s Sabbath program and I was amazed at the quality of music. It sounded just like it was a record being played! I then prayed about my attending Oakwood University and a couple days later I received a letter brochure from Oakwood about attending and I hadn’t even applied yet! I took this as a sign and applied even though I didn’t know where the money was going to come from. When I arrived at Oakwood I wanted to study piano performance but knowing that I didn’t have as much training or knew as much repertoire as the other students, I was afraid that I wouldn’t be accepted into the program and signed up for composition and recording instead. Now I’m in my senior year and I still would like to study piano performance instead of composition and recording since I have a knowledge of more repertoire than I initially did when I arrived, but because I don’t have all that repertoire under my fingers yet I still have a little fear that I might not be accepted into the program. I practice a bit of classical music when I’m not practicing music for the Sunday church that I play for just in case I decide to make the switch. However, after praying about it a lot I think that I’m being inspired more and more to go for it and I think I might just do that.


The Mozart effect…. This is a theory that states that listening to Mozart’s music will improve the IQ of the listener, which was developed by a physicist Dr. Gordon Shaw in the early 1990’s. In 1973, Dr. Shaw started his research on the brain’s capacity for spatial reason due to his interest in brain theory, according to Associated Press. The idea was exaggerated by the press and then became misconstrued as that The Mozart effect would make one smarter. What happens is that the classical music relaxes the brain and allows the spatial temporal to be enhanced. Now, what causes Mozart’s music to have this effect? Is it due to his style of music?. This “Mozart effect” not only helps IQ, but it also helps people with mental disorders. Music therapy is hugely beneficial to kids with autism, for example, but is this effect just limited to Mozart’s music? Since this research has been proven to stimulate the brain and raise the IQ of listeners, why is it that music programs are being cut from the school systems? Especially when school systems must cut down on subjects due to finances, the first department to be cut is the music department. These are some of the questions I intend to answer in this paper. The Mozart effect research has given us reasons to keep music in schools, not just as a major or hobby, but to help the brain’s spatial reasoning to be enhanced even if just temporarily. Autistic kids and people with other mental disorders are greatly benefited and gain help through music therapists, and it allows for more productivity with many tasks. The Mozart effect also work on babies’ brains developing in the womb and allow them to also grow to have a love for music. Music is not just an art, it’s a science and it’s just as, if not more effective, than medicine and it has no negative side effects. Not only have I stated that the Mozart effect works, and that music is an important part of life, but I have provided some examples of the benefits that I will bring to light in my paper.

Who Is Mozart?

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was an Austrian composer and was born in 1756 to Leopold and Anna Marie Mozart. Mozart wrote music in quite a bit of genres, as well as opera and symphony. Mozart composed more than 600 pieces of music and today he is widely considered one of the greatest composers in the history of Western music. Then Leopold (Mozart’s father) took him to Vienna, probably to find a better situation for his son. Being in the midst of the Viennese music for a while after moving, Mozart’s compositions seemed to be influenced by his environment. He produced a set of six string quartets in the capital, showing in them his knowledge of Haydn’s recent Opus 20 in his intellectual approach and combination of textures. Mozart always had a gift being able to soak up techniques and sounds of other composers’ music. His travels helped in the forging of a unique way of communicating to his audience through his compositions.

In London as a baby, he met J. C.

Bach and heard his music and also met with other compositional influences in Paris, Mannheim, and Vienna. In Italy he encountered the Italian overture and opera buffa, each of that deeply affected the evolution of his own follow. In London and Italy, the galant vogue was within the ascendent: straightforward, lightweight music with a mania for cadencing; a stress on tonic, dominant, and subdominant to the exclusion of different harmonies; symmetrical phrases; and clearly articulated partitions within the overall style of movements. Some of Mozart’s earlier symphonic works are similar to Italian overtures, with three movements running into each other; many are homotonal meaning that all three movements having the same key signature, with the slow middle movement being in the relative minor. Others mimic the works of J. C.

Bach, which show the straightforward rounded binary forms clad by Viennese composers.

As Mozart grew in maturity, he gradually added more techniques adapted from the Baroque.

For example, the Symphony No. 29 in A major K. 201 shows contrapuntal movement in the main theme in its 1st movement, and experimentation with irregular phrase lengths. The influence of the “Sturm und Drang” amount in music, with its transient foreshadowing of the Romantic era, is obvious within the music of each composers at that point. Mozart’s Symphony No. 25 in G minor K. 183 is another excellent example.

The Mozart Effect

In 1993 an article was published in “Nature” reporting results of an experiment where students listened to Mozart’s sonata for two pianos in D major, K448, before performing on one of three measures from an IQ test (Rauscher, Shaw, & Ky, 1993). The scores were then subject to a manipulation “we ‘translated’ them to spatial IQ scores of 119, 111, and 110, respectively. Thus, the IQs of subjects participating in the music condition were 8-9 points above their IQ

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scores in the other two conditions” (p.  611).  Through this transformation of scores, the Mozart effect was born and introduced to the public: Listening to Mozart could enhance intelligence. Jones and Zigler (2002) lamented the rapid embracement of the Mozart effect by public policy officials.  They cited as an example the Governor of Georgia’s proposed bill to the state legislature to provide a compact disk or tape of classical music for every newborn. Jones and

Zigler’s indictment focuses upon their assessment that much of the research of the Mozart effect is unsubstantiated: “Despite its scientifically weak base, the ‘Mozart effect’ has gained a durable reputation. The original research has given rise to claims about the power of short-term ‘enrichment’ experiences to alter neural structure.  Consequently, entrepreneurs have capitalized on the phenomenon, and the Mozart effect has quickly found its way into a variety of products” (p. 363).  This current research project hopefully provides clarification of the Mozart effect as well as verification of its existence. There are some examples that show the results of the Mozart effect and they are as follows:

  • In a 2004 study conducted by Carlson, Gray, & Thompson, (2004), music used to induce relaxation in third grade readers, produced a two to three grade level improvement in reading,
  • Chamorro-Premuzic and Furnham (2004) investigated the relationship between

the arts, personality and judgment and found that art judgment was significantly 

related to both personality and intelligence,

  • Kemmerer’s (2003) instruction in auditory perception positively impacted the 

reading abilities of early elementary aged children,

  • In a study of fourth graders, Haley (2001) discovered that band members who had

received instrumental instruction performed better than non-instrumentalists in 

math achievement, 

  • Matthews (2001) found that the incorporation of the arts into reading did improve 

the reading skills of upper level elementary students, but not lower ones,

  • Whitehead (2001) conducted research on the Orff-Schulwerk instructional method 

(music curriculum emphasizing performance improvisation over traditional rote 

fundamentals) and found a correlation between participating middle and high

school students and increased mathematics scores, 

  • Duke (2000) offered that music and arts training in general is an “integral and 

fundamental aspect of human communication and expression”, and a necessary component of “understanding culture and society while teaching auditory and 

visual discrimination”, (p.6).

  • Neuharth (2000) indicated that music participants have higher reading scores, but

no improvement in mathematics, while Kluball (2000) offered that instrumental 

experience provided higher achievement in mathematics and science, but not in 


  • Rauscher (2000) found that kindergarteners improved in a measure of

spatial/temporal intelligence after four months of musical keyboard training,

  • Cheek (1999) compared eighth graders mathematics scores on the Iowa Test of

Basic Skills (ITBS) and discovered higher scores among student that had

instrumental training for two or more years, with keyboard students having the

highest scores,

  • Gardiner (1996) discovered that elementary aged students who participated in an

arts curriculum, performed better in mathematics than their peers following a two

year study,

  • Trent (1996) indicated that sixth through twelfth graders who participated in 

instrumental school programs had higher scores on standardized tests than non-


Music in the School System

There is a large amount of data that supports the relationship between music and intellectual and academic achievement. Many studies have substantiated a positive relationship between music participation and academic performance (Helwig & Thomas, 1973; Kafer & Kennell, 1998; Schneider & Klotz, 2000).  In a large-scale examination of the effect of music and the other arts on student academic achievement, Catterall (1998) analyzed the U.S. Department of Education’s database of 25,000 students and found that students with high levels of arts participation academically outperformed those students with little or no arts participation on virtually every measure. More specifically, higher academic performance as measured by standardized test performance also seems to be related to measures of musical ability. Young (1971) observed that students who did better on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) had higher music reading abilities than did lower-performing students. In addition, a study by Johnson and Memmott (2006) found that academic reading achievement was related to music reading, music sight-reading, and attrition from the music program in an urban music classroom. Along with proof of higher academic achievement by students that participate in music, schools that have music programs have significantly higher graduation rates than do those without programs. In addition, those that have music programs considered “excellent” or “very good” have an even higher graduation rate of 90.9% (Harris interactive, 2006). In addition to these studies, a study done by Gouzouasis (2007) found that there were strong and statistically significant relationships between music participation and academic achievement as well as correlations between music achievement and achievement in the “core subjects”. In this study, the researchers used assessment data for three consecutive cohorts of students and which were taken from the Ministry of Education’s annual Student Data Collection. This data was merged with the grades of grade 11 students that took music courses.  Two types of analysis were conducted on each of the cohorts. The first was an analysis to see whether there was a relationship between music achievement and general academic achievement. The second analysis examined group differences in mean academic achievement between students  who participated in Grade 11 music courses and students who did not participate in any Grade 11 music course. One of the specific findings in this study was that music achievement in Grade 11 is a predictor of academic success in grade 12. Another finding was that the relationship between music participation and achievement in mathematics and biology was consistently greater than between music and English. Gouzouasis was also clear to emphasize that their results clearly and consistently indicated that participation in music courses does not hamper achievement in other domains. This finding is in opposition to the belief that time spent in music courses is ‘wasted,’ because it means that the time is not spent on instruction in ‘core’ subjects, and therefore slows down students’ progress in those courses. In fact, the results of this study showed that music participation benefits students in ways that are directly and indirectly linked to higher academic achievement in general, and specifically in regard to mathematics and biology.


   The effect music has on the mind is undeniable, especially with classical music. Why is it then that schools seem to be treating music like it is not as important as other subjects such as medicine, engineering, or even mathematics? Does not music incorporate all of these including more? Music has the ability to increase the spatial reasoning of the brain which helps in other areas of life and the information and data that has been gathered over the years proves it. Some may disagree on the Mozart effect and what it claims to do but having experienced the effect for myself I can attest to the validity of this phenomenon.


  • Ader, Michael J. “Mozart Effect: Exploring the Relationship between Classical Music and Improvement in the Spatial -Temporal Cognitive Abilities of Elementary School Children.” Order No. 3326583, Lynn University, 2008
  • Dastgheib, Samaneh Sadat, Parvaneh Layegh, Ramin Sadeghi, Mohsen Foroughipur, Ali Shoeibi, and Ali Gorji. “The Effects of Mozart’s Music on Interictal Activity in Epileptic Patients: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of the Literature.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports 14, no. 1 (01, 2014): 1-420
  • Dobson, Roger. “A Medical Maestro.” The Independent, Mar 18, 2008
  • Dowd, Will. “The Myth of the Mozart Effect.” Skeptic, 2008, 21-23,80
  • Duke, Robert A. “The Other Mozart Effect: An Open Letter to Music Educators.” Update : Applications of Research in Music Education 19, no. 1 (Fall, 2000): 9
  • Eng, Jo Ellen Elizabeth. “A Study of the Effects of Listening to Mozart on Tasks of Spatial Reasoning, Word Fluency, and Semantic Fluency.” Order No. 3159998, Fielding Graduate Institute, 2004
  • Timberg, Scott. “Classical Music; A Mozart Brainteaser; does Listening to the Master’s Music make You Smarter? at the Neurosciences Institute, a Concert Series and Lectures Address the Claim.” Los Angeles Times, Jun 29, 2003
  • Taylor, Judy M. and Beverly J. Rowe. “The “Mozart Effect” and the Mathematical         Connection.” Journal of College Reading and Learning 42, no. 2 (Spring, 2012): 51-66


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