New take on “Mozart effect” argues for music education

Posted on: November 3, 2010

A report in the October 26 Scientific American states, “Nearly 20 years ago a small study advanced the notion that listening to Mozart’s Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major could boost mental functioning. It was not long before trademarked ‘Mozart effect’ products appealed to neurotic parents aiming to put toddlers on the fast track to the Ivy League. … The evidence for Mozart therapy turned out to be flimsy, perhaps nonexistent, although the original study never claimed anything more than a temporary and limited effect. In recent years, however, neuroscientists have examined the benefits of a concerted effort to study and practice music, as opposed to playing a Mozart CD or a computer-based “brain fitness” game once in a while. Advanced monitoring techniques have enabled scientists to see … that music lessons can produce profound and lasting changes that enhance the general ability to learn. … Studies have shown that assiduous instrument training from an early age can help the brain to process sounds better, making it easier to stay focused when absorbing other subjects, from literature to tensor calculus. … Research of our brains on music leads to the conclusion that music education needs to be preserved—and revamped, as needed, when further insights demonstrate, say, how the concentration mustered to play the clarinet or the oboe can help a problem student focus better in math class.”

Posted November 3, 2010