Chances are you have heard of the theory that simply listening to classical music will make you smarter– otherwise known as the “Mozart Effect.” While the basic idea of the “Mozart Effect” is true, popular culture’s countless books, articles, and other reports of the idea are not 100% accurate. In fact just recently, a Harvard University study illustrated that music does not enhance childrens’ cognitive abilities. Additionally, the original 1993 report which led to the invention of the “Mozart Effect” found that cognitive gains from listening to Mozart only last for about 10 minutes.

The “Mozart Effect” is shrouded in myths and has always been an unreliable theory. It is true that putting on classical music in the background does not boost intelligence, but introducing music to children in an active manner, especially at a young age, will help with learning development and other interpersonal skills.

Nina Kraus, Ph.D., a neurobiology professor at Northwestern University, has conducted many years of research on the topic of music learning, and has found that music primes the brain for auditory fitness. The degree to which children can process the parts of a sound is a measure of how healthy the brain is, and can even predict how well a child will read. Furthermore, musical training in children may enhance self-esteem, improve coordination, promote discipline, and encourage the expression of creativity. 

The importance of music education to children has always been understood, but don’t be fooled into believing that playing Mozart will transform children into geniuses. Instead, encourage children to participate in music, and that is when you will see the greatest benefits.

-by Isaiah Crooks, C4K Intern