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Does Classical Music Make Infants Smarter?
Kids Really Do Turn Out Fine Whether They Listen To Classical Music Or Not....
Parents Have Always Wanted To Give Children Advantages, If They Can...
In the always changing world we live in today, if there was a way to make someone more intelligent, say by listening to a certain type of music, people would be embracing that idea and doing it. Using today's terminology, the idea would "go viral."
There was actually a test done back in 1993 on college students and the results of that test sparked an idea that came to be known as "The Mozart Effect." This test was to see if students could look at a piece of paper that had been folded and cut, and then figure out what it would look like if it was unfolded. It was done right after listening to different types of music.
The findings of this well-known test became the basis for a movement which held the belief that exposing babies and young children to classical music at an early age would somehow make them more intelligent.
To do this test, college students first listened to a choice of 10 minutes of classical music, 10 minutes of silence or 10 minutes of a relaxation track. What happened was unexpected and led some to believe that perhaps classical music really could raise a person's IQ, even if it was only on a temporary basis. The students exposed to the 10 minutes of classical music scored about eight or nine points higher than the other students scored when they were asked to figure out what the paper would look like if it was unfolded.
This test is what led to what has since been called "The Mozart Effect." It was believed to be a temporary raising of the IQ due to listening to classical music. From this, an entire industry sprang up providing classical music CD's for babies and children, with the belief that perhaps they would become smarter by listening to this music.
Listening To Classical Music Certainly Does Not Hurt...
What was found out later, however, is that it didn't make much of a difference either way whether a child is exposed to classical music at a young age. The belief today is that it certainly doesn't hurt kids and babies to listen to classical music. The soft, soothing music can help them to relax, especially when they are trying to drift off to sleep. But chances are, a parent is not going to create another Einstein by exposing their tiny tot to classical music.
Learning music itself is very good for children, especially in the case of learning to play an instrument, and is highly encouraged. The actual act of learning how to play an instrument uses areas of the brain that can help children with memory and retention skills and to develop cognitive abilities, and is always recommended, especially for school age children.
However, putting headphones on a pregnant woman's belly and feeding the unborn baby a steady stream of Beethoven, Bach or Mozart music probably is not going to create a genius. The creating of a genius still seems to be determined largely by genetics, as it always has been. But if listening to classical music helps the expectant Mom to relax, that can be a good thing, especially if blood pressure is an issue for her during her pregnancy.
An Entire Industry Was Created Based On The Belief That Classical Music For Infants Made Them Smarter!
Eventually, just on the basis of this one study done in 1993 when the results were published in a short article in a magazine called "Nature," somehow the belief spread that classical music would make infants and young children smarter. Parents began rushing out to get the collections of CD's, videos and books aimed towards developing babies and young children. The most popular of these lines of children's products is known as "Baby Einstein."
In fact, back then the Governor of Georgia, Zell Miller, held this belief as well. In 1998 he created a mandate that every new mother and expectant mother in the state would be given a classical music CD for their child. This was a very nice gesture, and a nice thought, but chances are it really didn't have that much of an impact on the intelligence of the children who listened to that music.
In addition to this, in Florida there was a mandate created that day care centers and young child care providers would have to provide classical music in the background. The music was required to be piped in through the sound system while the business was operating.
The belief that children could be made smarter by listening to music is based on two things. First, it is based on the belief that there is a period of time in an infants development when the things that they are exposed to at that time, this certain window of time, would affect them for the rest of their lives. Secondly, it was also based on the belief that music was beneficial to a child's development. Therefore, it seemed to make sense that classical music would be the best type of music to expose them to.
There are still those who argue today that the exposure to classical music at a young age is a very good thing. The author of several books on the subject, Don Campbell, has the conviction that there is, indeed, a "Mozart Effect." He is a classical musician himself and has a strong belief that music and education and health all go hand in hand and work together to create a healthier and more well-rounded individual.
A French physician, Alfred Tomatis, found that classical music did help certain groups of youngsters, especially those affected by dyslexia, autism and attention deficit disorders. His finding was that music helped the brain to be more organized. He also found that the best music to do this was music that was not overly rhythmic or music that did not have highly emotional overtones to it.
Other tests were done in the late 1990s that seemed to prove that listening to classical music did not really have much of an effect on intelligence. It was later suggested that the best way to help youngsters to achieve greater intelligence is to have them actually learn to play an instrument and not just passively listen to music. The act of learning to read music and to play a musical instrument had much more of an effect on intelligence than simply having classical music on in the background while a student is studying, for example.
And certainly, exposing infants to a good variety of classical music won't hurt and they may really enjoy listening to the music. Parents are advised to expose infants and young children to various complex musical sounds like jazz and classical music. This will help to keep their interest and keep them stimulated. Parents are advised not to simply play the same music over and over.
When children are older, they will most likely find certain types of music that they are attracted to and love to listen to. When they are young, however, most infants will benefit even more from the attention paid to them by parents and the social activity provided for them. Keeping their young minds stimulated and engaged will ultimately turn out to be much more beneficial for the child in the long term than simply putting a CD into a CD player or a video into a video player. The crucial act of learning from everyday life experiences is the real key to enhanced intelligence and good emotional development.