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Mozart Effect® FAQ

Q: What is The Mozart Effect®?

A: The Mozart Effect® is an inclusive term signifying the transformational powers of music in health, education and well–being. It represents the general use of music to reduce stress, depression or anxiety; induce relaxation or sleep; activate the body; and improve memory or awareness. Innovative and experimental uses of music and sound can improve listening disorders, dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, autism and other mental and physical disorders and injuries. (For more details, see The Mozart Effect® pages 27–30.)

Q: What is special about Music for The Mozart Effect® recordings?

A: Mozart wrote more than six hundred major compositions during his lifetime, beginning at age five. The clarity, form, excellence of the performance and frequency response have all gone into the selection of this special series of Mozart's music. The music has been sequenced for different activities. Music containing high frequency for stimulating the auditory system in the brain has been selected based on the work of Dr. Tomatis. The relaxation albums are slower and do not include the higher frequencies. The selections have been sequenced according to key, tempo and a variety of other psychological, physiological, and aesthetic factors to achieve a variety of auditory, physical and emotional responses. (For details see the liner notes in each album and the suggestions at the end of each chapter of the book, The Mozart Effect® for Children.)

Q: Does music actually seem to help raise people's IQ?

A: There have been many different studies, and probably a hundred different ways to measure intelligence. We know certain music brings us to greater attentiveness, allowing for better focus and concentration. Studies show that playing music early in life helps build the neural pathways that allow language, memory and spatial development to take place. We know that stimulating linguistic rhymes, dances, movement and play in the early years are essential to the foundation of bringing the emotions, mind and body together. Music can be effective in study and assist in concentration. A popular study into the subject showed students who listened to Mozart prior to testing scored higher marks in an intelligence test, and was published in Nature Magazine in 1993. The study by Rauscher, Shaw and Ky is entitled "Music and Spatial Task Performance." (See The Mozart Effect® pages 28, 303, 305–306.)

Q: What is the history of The Mozart Effect®?

A: Research with Mozart's music began in France in the late 1950s when Dr. Alfred Tomatis began his experiments in auditory stimulation for children with speech and communication disorders. By 1990, there were hundreds of centers throughout the world using Mozart's music containing high frequencies, especially the violin concertos and symphonies, to help children with dyslexia, speech disorders and autism. In the 1990s, experiments began at the University of California in Irvine with Mozart's music and spacial intelligence assessments. As recently as 2001, new studies in England use Mozart's music to study its effect on epilepsy. (For details see The Mozart Effect® pages 15–23 and The Mozart Effect® for Children pages 8–9 and 11–13.)

Q: What other music is beneficial for learning?

A: Each learning environment should be assessed before using music. The time of day, the sounds in the environment such as air conditioners and outside sounds all modify the way we can concentrate. Each person responds to sound differently when tired or after having a meal. At times, ten minutes of stimulating music that quickens the heartbeat and awakens the imagination is useful (marches, folk, popular). Dr. Georgi Lozanov suggests slow Baroque music for optimal learning (Bach, Handel, Correli, Telemann). (See The Mozart Effect® pages 78–81 for uses of jazz, pop, ambient and other styles of music. Also see Rhythms of Learning, Chapter 6.)

Q: How is music used in a healing context?

A: Music helps release the stress of being ill; it can vitalize, inspire and reduce pain. Music is not an instant cure for disease, although there is much research on the importance of auditory stimulation in health. The ear is essential for balance, language, expression and spatial orientation. Music and rhythmic patterning are used extensively before and after surgery and for patients who have had strokes and head injuries. Music Therapists are trained specialists who can assist in physical, developmental and psychological settings. A musical background is not necessary for the patient. Music reaches multiple areas of the brain, more than just language and therefore can be quite effective in a clinical environment. (See The Mozart Effect® index for an extensive list of uses for music.)

Q: Why is Mozart's music beneficial for learning and health?

A: Mozart's music is the most popular and researched music for helping modify attentiveness and alertness. The structural and not overly emotional expression helps clarify time/space perception. It is not overstimulating and the structures of the rondo, sonata–allegro form and variation form are basic ways in which the brain becomes familiar with the development and familiarity of ideas. (See The Mozart Effect® pages 27–30.)

Q: How do I make best use of recordings to improve study and creativity?

A: Some people are hyper–responsive to sound, and music can distract them during study. Others learn how to select music for their different moods and projects. Generally, the challenge to study comes when we are overstimulated and cannot settle down to focus or we are dull, tired or bored and cannot get the energy to begin a task. In the two–CD set The Mozart Effect® Volume 4: Focus and Clarity two different types of music help you develop your own style of preparation for study. Once you learn when your mind needs relaxation or stimulation, you can develop a variety of ways to use music to help you maintain good study habits. (From the insert Ten Ways to use Music for Studying and Projects, from The Mozart Effect® Volume 4: Focus and Clarity.)

Q: What is sound healing?

A: Sound is the vibrational field that makes up language, music and tone. When it is organized, we communicate words, ideas, feelings and expressions. In its disorganized form, it creates noise. Sound, whether we are in the womb or even in a coma, reaches our brain and our bodies through skin, bones, and ears. Every person listens in different ways. When rhythm, melody and harmony are organized into beautiful forms, the mind, body, spirit and emotions are brought toward harmony. There are dozens of ways in which sound and music is used throughout the world. (For an in–depth look at music in nursing, medicine, and psychological uses of music, see Music, Physician for Times to Come.)