Monday, January 19, 2009

The Mozart Effect

I've had Mozart on my mind today, but not because I've spent much time lately listening to any of his music. I've been an unrepentant Bachophile for some time now. So why is Wolfie on my mind? I've spent the past few days plowing through a biography on Glenn Gould...(and I need to finish it up soon so I can move on to a book on Canada's participation in WWI that I borrowed from Clare) A quote by Gould, where he remarked that the tragedy of Mozart was not that he had died too soon, but that he had died not soon enough, led me to many thoughts about the little wunderkind...Why did Gould only ever record just one of Mozart's piano concertos? Is there perhaps a Mozart trumpet concerto out there yet to be discovered? And so, through twists and turns, my mind jumped from pianos and trumpets to the Mozart Effect.

In essence, this was a theory that came out in the early '90's maintaining that listening to Mozart's music for brief periods of time can make a person smarter. The original study involved a look at how exposure to Mozart's music (especially his piano concertos!) affected a person's spatial reasoning. Somehow (and I'm not quite sure since I've never gone through the literature on it) this was misconstrued and the idea that Mozartian melodies could increase IQ was popularized. Its a nice idea, but purely bogus. If listening to Mozart really did increase a person's IQ, I'm certain I'd be some sort of level 10 genius child by now, given all the Mozart, I've played, performed and listened to over the years. Clearly, I won't be getting any invitations from MENSA in the near future.

I will say this though - I've found that certain music DOES help me to concentrate better for short periods of time. Mozart, yes but particularly J.S. Bach. Listening to Bach, with his very structured music, fugues especially, was helpful when studying or facing a tough exam...or sometimes for something as simple as waking up and focusing early in the morning (I'm a night person).

The theory has led to a niche market for all sorts of gimmicks claiming to improve your baby's intelligence, and while I don't put much stock in their claims, if I DID have a baby I'd much rather have them fall asleep to the 2nd movement of Mozart's K488 than oh, say, Nine Inch Nails. Exposing oneself to good music, at any age, is always a good thing in my book.

8 comments:

Matthew and Michele said...

Weird.

I was listening to Mozart’s piano concertos as I was reading your blog.

Don't think it has helped my intelligent any but it is nice to listen to and enjoy.

:o)

Matt, Kara and Hunter said...

What?? But Hunter loves going to sleep with NIN playing in the background!!

heheh actually, his favorite is still the Metallica cd!

Way Way Up said...

LOL Kara....I was actually going to delete NIN and type in Metallica instead and then decided to leave it. Hope you have a reinforced bed for the little guy there then if it's Metallica.

:)

Anonymous said...

Well by chance if you ever do settle down & start a family then might I suggest the Baby Einstein DVD's & CD's - you'll be happy to know that you can choose from Mozart, Beethoven, Bach and many more! Carson loved them when he was a baby (ha! ha! because he's soo old now!)

Tracey said...

The song that came to mind while I was reading this blog post was "Rock Me Amadeus" by Falco.

jen said...

haha were you reading my facebook status the other night?

Way Way Up said...

Amber - I remember you had those for Carson but couldn't remember the details. I was thinking of mentioning that in the post.

Jen.....um.....yup....busted!

Kennie said...

Naw, expose the lil kiddies to NIN, Metalica, Tool and Mozart and Bach and Dvorak. They need to be well rounded individuals!

Kara - y Hunter is so going to be getting a copy of my NIN collection one of these days ... from Halo 1 all the way to Halo 27 ... but by the time the lil guy is ready to be NIN'ed it will probably be like Halo 35 :-) Oh, and I can add Metalica to that list ..... or did I already send that out ... hmm....