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Does Classical Music Really Make YOU Smarter?

Updated on July 29, 2013

Myth or Reality?

For the past few decades, the convoluted theory that classical music makes you more "intelligent" has been passed down from generations to the next. But is such a questionable theory true? Another theory even claims that playing classical music to an infant expands the spacial-relationship skills area of their brains, thus, causing them to become "smarter" individuals. Is that theory genuinely dependable? The answer for these trite questions is unfortunately, Of course, this is an open-ended question to many, but according to research, studies, and even my own experiences, such a theory is not true in any shape or form.

If you have ever listened to classical music before, you probably noticed that many notes repeat over and over and over again. These repetitions cause brain neurons to fire at various frequencies. Therefore, every time the note repeats, neurons in the brain will fire at the same spot and at the same frequency, thus creating a neural pathway. This method is believed to have caused advancements in IQ scores and other intelligent tests. Afterwords, a major theory came into existence. This theory is the Mozart effect theory, which claims an increase in brain development in children under 3 when they listen to music of the famous classical composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. This theory is believed to increase a person's spacial skills, but it certainly does not make them any smarter.

Studying with classical music...does it help?

Ever heard of the popular myth that playing classical music while studying increases your chances of receiving better grades? Here is the explanation to this: the neural pathway that classical music creates when the same notes repeat strengthens itself as we add information to the pathway. Think of it this way: when you run on the treadmill, you burn calories, correct? But when you set your treadmill on incline and start running, you don't only burn calories, but you strengthen your leg muscles. Connecting this back to the neural pathway, the neural pathways that the brain exhibits become harder and stronger when we add information over them. This pathway-strengthening and increase of neural firings is called Long-Term potentiation, which basically enhances your long-term memory.

Does classical music make you smarter?

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Long-term potentiation allows you to remember things for a longer period of time. Thus, it does not make you any smarter, nor more intelligent. Regarding the theory that putting classical music for an infant child will increase IQ scores, it is evident that intelligence is an inherited characteristic of a human being; therefore, all what classical music does is that it stimulates certain areas of the brain to fire at specific frequencies. The possibilities that classical music will make your child "more intelligent" are very slim, and even if such a rare possibility happens, please note that this does not apply to everyone. In simpler words, there is a correlation between classical music and intelligence, but this correlation does not indicate causation. What do you think? Vote to your right!

Example of note-repetition in classical music. Enjoy!


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    • profile image

      the classical pianist 

      4 years ago

      The person that wrote this article has no iq that's why they cannot understand that classical music raises iq level . My dad had a piano student that was very clever in school but when it came to playing piano the student had difficulty because playing is90% work and 10% talent .One is also using 90% of the brain capacity playing piano.

    • LailaK profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Nuts, I appreciate your comment. You're right, memory is a significant component of intelligence, however, not all smart people have good memories and vise versa. I hope that makes sense.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      quote "Long-term potentiation allows you to remember things for a longer period of time. Thus, it does not make you any smarter, nor more intelligent."

      This statement is itself a contradiction. Memory is a significant component of intelligence.

    • LailaK profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Ajwrites57, thanks for stopping by!

    • ajwrites57 profile image


      5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      In, the past, when I used to do a lot more writing than i do now, I used to listen to classical music. Don't know if it made me smarter but I feel it helped me concentrate better. Interesting article.

    • LailaK profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Hello there, theonlineguitaris! I am very glad to hear your kind words! Thank you soo much for stopping by :)

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Hey, you have some great Hubs here. Congrats on your success so far! I'm pretty sure you must have listened to classical music when you were younger, you're pretty smart. You're grammar is quit impressive for a teenager. Just wanted to share that and send a friendly invitation to my Hub. I'm theonlineguitarist.

    • LailaK profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Thank you for stopping by, sweetzara :)

    • sweetzara profile image

      Zara Rasul 

      6 years ago from Mumbai, India

      I've always heard that listening to classical music makes one smarter... But I always suspected that it wasn't that simple. Perhaps the music only unlocks the potential that's already there. Thanks for the explanation. Great hub.

    • LailaK profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Thank you everyone for your marvelous comments!

      Man from Modesto, I think that the information you included in your comment is very insightful! I never knew that about cows :O Thanks for stopping by :)

    • Man from Modesto profile image

      Man from Modesto 

      6 years ago from Kiev, Ukraine (formerly Modesto, California)

      There have been many experiments which show the effects of music (sound) on plants and animals. Do you know that cows are more docile and produce more milk when they are played classical music?

      Plants grow away from rock music, but toward classical music. They also grow toward the sun, which gives them life.

      Stimulating muscles and organs of the human body causes them to grow in response. Classical music is a non-harmful stimulus to perform this benefit.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      6 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      Studying Classical music certainly aids in your development as you study, focus and are stimulated by musical movement and form. Great hub and I voted up!


    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I really enjoyed this article, but in the end I voted yes. I considered that perhaps we have been looking at classical music as a singular variety of music and one form of stimulus. Classical music as a genre offers great diversity of instrumention, composition and experiences, emotional content, hence a variety of stimuli for the novice listener's brain to be exposed to. Doesn't make you smarter , it acclamates your mind to receiving new stimuli. It is simply good you feed your brain is another matter

    • Sinea Pies profile image

      Sinea Pies 

      6 years ago from Northeastern United States

      Very interesting hub. I think playing classical music for your unborn and young children is a positive influence, even if it does not literally increase intellect. Voted up!

    • LailaK profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      I think that along with classical music, your sister-in-law is a wonderful mother! Her style of raising her girls definitely played a major role in making them more intelligent. Thank you very much for stopping by!

    • missolive profile image

      Marisa Hammond Olivares 

      6 years ago from Texas

      This is a very interesting hub. As a personal experience - my sister-n-law played classical music for her two daughter's while she was pregnant with them. She also read to them and sang. She continued the process after their births. Both of my nieces are incredibly intelligent and display amazing alertness and awareness. I'm sure it was a combination of things that led to their intelligence, but my sister-in-law is pretty sure that the music played a major role.

      Voted up and across - great hub!


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