A Little Night Music for your brain, a little Ozzy or Van Halen for mine
By Kay Dee Johansen
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, posthumous portrait
In 1993 Gordon Shaw, physicist, and Frances Rauscher, a former concert cellist and an expert on cognitive development, conducted a study at the University of California, Irvine. They wanted to see if listening to Mozart would make college students smarter. The answer: yes, for a while.
They found that after listening to 10 minutes of the Mozart Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major, the students had a temporary enhancement of spatial-temporal reasoning.
Since the discovery of "the Mozart Effect," other scientists have done the same experiment, but most of them did not come up with the same results. In fact some people in the studies stated that listening to Mozart made them dumber.
Although there is no conclusive evidence that listening to classical music will make you smarter, the public has embraced the idea. The CD Music for the Mozart Effect Vol 1-Strengthen the Mind was a bestseller. The state of Georgia gives a cassette or CD of classical music to the parents of every newborn. And a bill that passed in Florida mandates all child-care and educational programs that receive state funding play 30 minutes of classical music a day for children under the age 5.
Elizabeth York, a professor of music therapy for Utah State University, says, "It is just too easy to say listening to classical music will make you smarter."
She said, "You can't take a music pill, because musical preference is important to the individual, it's personal."
According to York, music therapists often develop personalized CD's for patients to listen to when they are undergoing an operation in a hospital.
"We want to find music that is nurturing to the patient. If you were going to develop a tape for me while I was going through surgery, the last thing I need is Mozart," she said.
According to Steven Halpern, a composer who has been awarded for his innovations in music, health and well being, one size does not fit all.
Halpern says, "Pay attention to your own feelings and take responsibility for you own response-ability."
In other words if Mozart leaves you cold take heart, Van Halen may
be our next source of intelligence.