Mozart Effect

In 1993 an article was published in “Nature” reporting results of an experiment where students listened to Mozart’s sonata for two pianos in D major, K448, before performing on one of three measures from an IQ test (Rauscher, Shaw, & Ky, 1993). The scores were then subject to manipulation “we ‘translated’ them to spatial IQ scores of 119, 111, and 110, respectively. Thus, the IQs of subjects participating in the music condition were 8-9 points above their IQ scores in the other two conditions” (p. 611). Through this transformation of scores, the Mozart effect was born and introduced to the public: Listening to Mozart could enhance intelligence. Jones and Zigler (2002) lamented the rapid embracement of the Mozart effect by public policy officials. They cited as an example the Governor of Georgia’s proposed bill to the state legislature to provide a compact disk or tape of classical music for every newborn. Jones and Zigler’s indictment focuses upon their assessment that much of the research of the Mozart effect is unsubstantiated: “Despite its scientifically weak base, the ‘Mozart effect’ has gained a durable reputation. The original research has given rise to claims about the power of short-term ‘enrichment’ experiences to alter neural structure. Consequently, entrepreneurs have capitalized on the phenomenon, and the Mozart effect has quickly found its way into a variety of products” (p. 363). This current research project hopefully provides clarification of the Mozart effect as well as verification of its existence. There are some examples that show the results of the Mozart effect and they are as follows:

  • In a 2004 study conducted by Carlson, Gray, & Thompson, (2004), music used to induce relaxation in third grade readers, produced a two to three grade level improvement in reading
  • Chamorro-Premuzic and Furnham (2004) investigated the relationship between the arts, personality and judgment and found that art judgment was significantly related to both personality and intelligence
  • Kemmerer’s (2003) instruction in auditory perception positively impacted the reading abilities of early elementary aged children
  • In a study of fourth graders, Haley (2001) discovered that band members who had received instrumental instruction performed better than non-instrumentalists in math achievement
  • Matthews (2001) found that the incorporation of the arts into reading did improve the reading skills of upper level elementary students, but not lower ones,
  • Whitehead (2001) conducted research on the Orff-Schulwerk instructional method (music curriculum emphasizing performance improvisation over traditional rote fundamentals) and found a correlation between participating middle and high school students and increased mathematics scores
  • Duke (2000) offered that music and arts training in general is an “integral and fundamental aspect of human communication and expression”, and a necessary component of “understanding culture and society while teaching auditory and visual discrimination”, (p.6).
  • Neuharth (2000) indicated that music participants have higher reading scores, but no improvement in mathematics, while Kluball (2000) offered that instrumental experience provided higher achievement in mathematics and science, but not in reading Rauscher (2000) found that kindergarteners improved in a measure of spatial/temporal intelligence after four months of musical keyboard training
  • Cheek (1999) compared eighth graders mathematics scores on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) and discovered higher scores among student that had instrumental training for two or more years, with keyboard students having the highest scores
  • Gardiner (1996) discovered that elementary aged students who participated in an arts curriculum, performed better in mathematics than their peers following a two year study
  • Trent (1996) indicated that sixth through twelfth graders who participated in instrumental school programs had higher scores on standardized tests than non- instrumentalists.

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