There has been much discussion over the years on the Mozart Effect. The original experiments showed a temporary increase in the ability of students who listened to Mozart before a test was administered. The idea has since been extrapolated to suggest that children's intelligence can be enhanced by early exposure to music. And by early they mean in the womb.
'The Mozart Effect for Children' takes its approach from the idea that Mozart himself benefited from this effect, listening from conception to his composer father's music. The 'Toy Symphony', until recently attributed to Haydn, was written by Leopold Mozart to celebrate his wife's pregnancy with little Wolfgang Amadeus.
The book describes the ways in which music can help babies to be soothed, of children helped by music and disadvantaged youngsters whose educational success improved enormously when a course of piano lessons or drumming skills were introduced. Music can help concentration in all children, help the healing process for sick children and help to calm a fussy baby. ('Tragic Kingdom' by No Doubt used to work for our oldest son, but I don't think that is quite what the author had in mind).
There is plenty of practical advice in this book on how to get the Mozart Effect to work for your child, alongside the known scientific evidence of the effect which music has on the brain. There are lots of suggestions for singing games and songs to sing with your child. You don't have to only listen to Mozart, and it is just as useful to play a wide variety of types of music. As well as classical music it recommends jazz and pop music, children's songs and music from around the world.
There are lists at the end of each chapter of recommended Mozart listening for children of different ages, and lots of other ideas for songs, games and rhythmical rhymes to play with babies from newborn to the age of eleven.
Much of the evidence presented in the book is, inevitably, anecdotal but then it is hard to measure something so subjective scientifically. So here's my own spooky experience to show why I think there might just be something in the Mozart effect. I play the saxophone in a local amateur concert band, and while I was pregnant with my younger son we performed Haydn's Trumpet Concerto. My part was quite challenging and unusually exposed for me so I practised hard. Recently I was listening to the radio when the Trumpet Concerto was played. My son suddenly looked very excited and started to bounce around to the music. Did he recognise it? I don't know, but I would love to think so.
About the Author: Jacqui O’Brien is the editor of eParenting.