Classical Music Vs. Pop Music: Exploring the Effects on Fetal Development
How it works
For decades parents have tried different ways to enlighten their children’s minds as soon as possible. Whether it be a formula that “enhanced” the brain or cartoons that taught them two different languages, when word spread that mothers could play certain music while pregnant and possibly stimulate brain activity for their fetus, it changed the game. They played it out loud, put headphones on their stomachs, and even used it as background music as they slept.
The Debate Over Music’s Effect
There was always the debate over if the music even did anything for the fetus.
Scientists had already proven that newborn baby already has the memory of some voices they hear while in the womb, but hearing and understanding music seemed like a stretch. If it did, in fact, reach the newborn’s brain in some way, then came the debate over which genre was the best for the fetus.
Tests and experiments were conducted. Mothers became skeptical because of the thought of harming their fetuses. No one could say for sure the effects it had on the fetus because the results truly can vary. In my opinion, I believe that music can stimulate brain development in a fetus. I also believe that playing music in a prenatal state can influence the music taste of newborn babies. It can also, in my opinion, possibly develop musical ability in the child that may not have been there before because of a lack of talent in parents.
In this paper, I will discuss the different effects that musical genres have on newborn babies. I will go over tests that have been conducted and their results to show the effects of exposing fetuses to music. I will also determine which genre of music is best for the fetus based on what it does, the amount of activity in the fetus when it is exposed, and test results and statistics.
Musical Genres and Their Perceived Effects
The different genres can do and mean different things to an infant. Before researching, I had an idea of what each genre did. I thought pop music might make your child possibly a happier or more extroverted baby because of its uplifting beat and rhythm. I believe classical music may make your infant smarter because of its complex orchestras, and it personally helps me focus. I believe rock music may make your infant more musically inclined, as well as classical, because of its captivating drum or guitar solos. I believe that traditional or cultural music may enhance an infant’s own genetic roots.
An international clinic that is based on assisting reproduction, Institut Marques, did a study to observe the different reactions of the fetuses to the different genres. They used the genres of tribal, classical, pop, and rock (Rodríguez 2018). The results of the test are as follows. Classical music, using five popular artists and compositions, showed the most reactions, with 91% of the fetuses moving their mouths and tongues to Mozart’s “A Little Night Music” and 73% of those fetuses sticking out their tongues to the same song (Rodriguez 2018). Classical music also had the highest reactions globally, with a high 84% of fetus reactions (Rodriguez 2018).
When Can Fetuses Detect Sound?
Another test was conducted to see how early these fetuses could even detect sound. This type of test has varying results because of the different natural development speeds of infants. “From 10 weeks onwards, the external ear is visualized by ultrasound. The outer ear collects sound energy shaping it towards the tympanic membrane. The ossicles of the middle ear reach full size by 18 weeks. Only then do they become ossified and are of adult size by 36 weeks? At 7 weeks, the eustachian tube and the tympanic cavity are formed where acoustic energy is transduced into mechanical energy” (Ultrasound 2002).
Long-Term Effects of Prenatal Music Exposure
In this same article, the discussion of the long-term effects that prenatal music may have on growing children. It is said that the possibility of the earlier development of speech and memory skills is seen in growing children over children who were not exposed to music in the womb (Ultrasound 2002). Different countries saw results of earlier learning in sitting up, walking, and speaking in infants 5 to 12 months, such as China, Venezuela, and England (Ultrasound).
So far, it has been said that infants are susceptible to music at a very young age and even in a prenatal fetal state. It has also been proven that classical music stimulates the most brain activity while in the womb. It also has long-term effects on a newborn as they have seen results in earlier cognitive and physical skills in said newborns who have been exposed.
The last article speaks on a specific experiment that tests the show exposure to music can show effects many months after birth. The test consisted of two groups. The first group had its mothers play “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” for their fetuses in their last trimester five times a week (Partanen 2013). The other group did not have prenatal exposure to music. At the age of 4 months, a different version of the song was played. Even though the new version had different notes and key changes, the exposed group seemed to recognize and relax to the song. The unexposed group was confused when hearing the song (Partanen 2013).
Conclusion: The Unifying Power of Music
Music brings the world together. No matter the language or lack of lyrics, music helps people understand one another and conveys emotions very strongly. For prenatal infants, music can enlighten and enhance their minds in many different and positive ways. Exposing a fetus in the last trimester to classical music can reap the benefits of higher and faster learning skills and heighten its ability to absorb music.
- Ultrasound in Obstetrics & Gynecology .” Music during Pregnancy, 11 Dec. 2002.
- Eaves, Maria. “Some Effects of Music on The Fetus.” The Influence of Music, 6 Apr. 2017.
- Partanen, Eino, et al. “Prenatal music exposure induces long-term neural effects” PloS one vol. 8,10 e78946. 30 Oct. 2013, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0078946
- Rodríguez, Ana. “Which Music Stimulates Your Baby?” Institut Marquès, 12 June 2018.