Bad News, Parents: Listening To Mozart Won't Make Kids Smarter, Says Research

A PhD Student at Harvard, Samuel Mehr, just debunked the myth that classical music makes children smarter. Despite the popularity of the belief, there has not been actual evidence to support the statement. 

He said, "There is no good evidence that listening to Mozart, or listening to anything, does anything for intelligence or cognitive skills in domains that are not musical." While many these days seem to believe that there is truth in classical music increasing baby intelligence, the "Mozart effect" did not start until the early 1990s, when a small group of University of California-Irvine students studied 36 students and divided them into three groups for their research: one group listened to Mozart, the other to a "self-hypnosis" spiel, and the other kept in silence.

After some time, the groups were given a test to measure spatial IQ, and those who listened to Mozart averaged 8-9 IQ points higher. The effect lasted for 15 only minutes. 

Still, when they published their research in 1993, a movement was born, never mind the fact that the study was made on adult college students, not infants. Other studies showed that while Mozart's string quintets improved children's spatial ability, pop music from bands like Blur are more effective.

That being said, Mehr stated that the debate regarding classical music is really just another form of people wanting to have simple answers. However, as Quartz noted, classical music cannot hurt an infant's development in any way. It still proves to be relaxing and if it can calm the parent down, it could do the same thing to a child.

What could make a child more intelligent, though? University of Virginia Professor Daniel Willingham said that when parents read to their children, the learning is cumulative and helps in early learning.

"The research indicating that being read to makes a young child smarter is much, much stronger than the 'Mozart Effect' research," says Willingham. Music is still a wonder gift with a lot of benefits. However, additional IQ points is not one of them.

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