The Mozart effect: How listening to classical music makes you smart

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I have always been particularly picky with the kind of music I listen to. Inasmuch as I would love to brag about my music collection as being exquisite and just beautiful, I would assume that it is the same thing any music lover would say about his or her own personal collection. Music is divine. It can alter moods for better or worse, speak to hearts, serve as an aphrodisiac, a source of creative energy, a source of motivation, relaxation, noise, tranquillity, and so much more. Music is just that companion we can handpick, depending on what we require at any given moment. While these are features of music that really don’t seem unfamiliar, a different school has given music a little extra power.

Millennials have varying tastes in music today. The top picks usually revolve around hip-hop, pop, rock, rap, religious, alternative, and rhythm & blues. The ones with extravagant tastes (like me), usually go the extra mile and bring in more options – dancehall, trap, funk, alternative rock, electronic dance music, and so on. Hardly do we find people in this generation that are still interested in the classics. However, this might have to change if you want to be smart… or at least that’s what we have to believe. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a very influential composer of the Classical era. The German was so talented, it is believed that listening to his music would make you smart, have better memory, and give you much more brain power than you already have.

If you are anything like me, and you have listened to the song above, “Requiem”, then chances are you are already bored with the entire piece because of how sleepy the song gets you. But if this stuff actually gets you smarter, then it is probably worth being added to your playlist. Known as the “Mozart effect”, the myth solidified after researchers in the 1990s, carried out a study at the University of California with 36 students. They made them listen to 10 minutes of a Mozart sonata before taking an IQ test. The psychologist in charge of the study, found out that the students’ IQ scores went up by about 8 points, and that was how the “Mozart effect” started.

Later on, some researchers, from Sapienza University of Rome, explained that “the results of the test may be representative of the fact that Mozart’s music is able to ‘activate’ neuronal cortical circuits (circuits of nerve cells in the brain) related to attentive and cognitive functions.” Regardless of what that means, people have held on to the belief that it works – especially for young adults and kids because their minds still have the capacity to be altered or whatever. Since the same results haven’t been derived from other classical songs, Mozart’s just took the title. Parents have gone ahead to get custom classical music CDs to be played to developing foetuses as well as their kids to somehow unleash the power of the music.

source: BBC

While no such result has come from further research, the idea of music having a form of mystical power has somehow been believable. Nobody else thinks it is weird that composed beats alter their brains at all? Mozart was undoubtedly a creative genius, but if the idea is that he dropped bits of his ‘genius’ within musical notes, then a lot of us need to get checked up. The complexity in his music has been credited for the music’s success, but we have also seen various scenarios where the theory didn’t work as much. You see, just as any other genre of music, preference comes to play. Asides preference, some songs just tend to stir your curiosity more than others. That is the true power of music.

So, it should not surprise you that when a particularly large study was conducted in Britain involving eight thousand children in 2006, to test this same Mozart effect; the children who listened to Mozart did fine, but did even better with pop music. In essence, I believe the Mozart effect should be known as the ‘Music effect’ instead. As long as a particular type of music causes a reaction in your brain and gets it alert, you would probably work better or seem smarter. It’s pretty much what drugs, booze, or coffee does to you. Music is its own power. This is why creativity has been paired with music. Music gets your attention, and that is why adverts come with music. When listening to music, we think faster.

The only form of support I have for the Mozart effect is the fact that genres could have certain inputs to our brains. It is why religious music gives us peace, it is why hip-hop gets us excited, and it is why romantic blues intensify our ability to feel. This is also likely why classical music is seen as one of the top rated genres for inspiring productivity, improving concentration, and enhancing memory. Alas, the Mozart effect.

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Ejiro Lawretta Egba is a young chartered accountant and writer from Nigeria. She holds a degree in Accounting and is a qualified member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria. She is currently a Financial Analyst for a private equity firm in Nigeria, a ghost writer, and a writer/contributor for a number of websites and platforms, both home and abroad. With an immense passion for knowledge acquisition, she seeks to contribute her own quota to the African community and beyond. For info and inquiries, contact via: lawrettawritesbookreviews@yahoo.com

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