Still debating the “Mozart effect”

Posted on: January 13, 2014

“Playing Mozart and Beethoven to young children improves their listening skills, concentration and self-discipline, according to a study this week” by Britain’s Institute of Education, writes Luisa Dillner in Sunday’s (1/12) Guardian (London). “What happens if you encourage your child to play an instrument? … The evidence for the benefits of music on developing brains is unclear. In a previous paper in Psychological Science, [University of Toronto professor of psychology Glenn] Schellenberg found that in a sample of 144 children randomly put into groups of keyboard, voice, drama lessons or no lessons, it was the children in the music groups who had greater (although small) increases in their IQ … [but] other influencing factors were hard to rule out. The premise for the Mozart effect, now marketed so thoroughly for babies, is spurious, say many researchers.… A study in Nature in 1999 by Christopher Chabris, a psychologist, adding up the results of 16 studies on the Mozart effect, found only a one and a half point increase in IQ…. Another meta-analysis the following year had similar findings.… The Institute of Education’s research … shows that children enjoy classical music and it encourages them to concentrate and listen.”

Posted January 13, 2014