Ms. Stephanie Behne
March 8, 2000
MUSIC AND THE MIND:
THE CONTROVERSY BEHIND THE MOZART EFFECT
Every aspiring mother and father in America dreams about having their child attend Harvard, or Yale, or MIT. For generations parents have attempted to get a head start on that dream in hopes that it would make the child smarter after conception. A good diet, exercise, singing, and verbal communication have all been said to help in producing a “little Einstein”. But now America has a new way to make their children smarter. It seems that the next generation will not be singing, talking to, playing with, or even teaching their children. All they have to do is turn on the radio or one of the many choices of tapes that have sprung up after America first learned about the “Mozart Effect”. This widely inclusive term stemmed from a 1993 study that found that college students had increased IQ scores after listening to a Mozart Sonata. Days after the news was released, it gave birth to a music industry, government legislation stating that all newborn babies were to be given a classical tape, a new field of medicine: “Music Therapy, and parents around the country playing Mozart’s “Sonata in D Major for Two Pianos” to their newborns while “...waiting for Harvard to call...” ( ). But on the other hand, it was a Harvard Medical School researcher named Chris Chabris that has discredited it as “statistically insignificant” (Chabris 54). The effect of music on young minds is a very controversial topic.
The Mozart Effect is the use of music to enhance the quality of life in a variety of ways, including health, wellness, education,creativity and emotional expression (Kranz 1). It originated from a 1993 study on college students, and its results have been widely misinterpreted. The study found that listening to a Mozart sonata could boost college IQ scores and that was it. Many people, including Sony Music Company, have now tapped into that study and have blown up its advantages into places where science has not studied (Ferman 9). These misinterpretations have lead many parents to believe that if their newborns are exposed to classical music they will become smarter. And some (but not all) research supports that idea, but the media has exaggerated music’s affect on the body and possibly opened the way for a new form of medicine.
Since the breaking of this news, parents have been offered yet another way to help develop their children’s minds. Research has found that infants do benefit form many developmental enhancements attributed to music. One of these is the ability to express themselves through an instrument or by other means of expression (Kranz 1).
Word Count: 456