Q & A Library

Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Does Music Make Children Smarter?

What do you think of the Mozart effect, the theory that listening to classical music raises children's IQs? Is there anything to it?

Answer (Published 11/2/2006)

The so called "Mozart effect" comes from a 1993 study performed at the University of California at Irvine, which showed that 10 minutes of listening to Mozart's Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major enhanced short-term spatial reasoning among college kids. That rather esoteric bit of research spawned an industry. Exaggerating claims that went far beyond the findings of the initial research, record companies and entrepreneurs pushed child development CDs at expectant and new parents. Hospitals gave out tapes of Mozart's music, and pregnant women played CDs to their unborn babies, hoping the effect would reach into the womb.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor for Energy - If you are a parent or grandparent, you know that abundant energy is vital when it comes to keeping up with the kids. Certain supplements can help keep you energized, naturally - learn more, and get your free, personalized Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor Recommendation.

Since then, various researchers have attempted to replicate the original study's findings with little success. Finally, two studies published in the August 26, 1999, issue of the scientific journal Nature disputed the original study and concluded that listening to Mozart does little, if anything, to boost IQ. Even the researchers who conducted the original study agreed that their findings had been widely misinterpreted. In the first place, they studied college students, not infants. Second, the effect lasted only ten minutes, not a lifetime!

A series of more recent studies published in the March, 2006, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences looks at the effects of both musical training and listening to music on intelligence. One study, showed that musicians have more gray matter in the auditory cortex of the brain's right hemisphere compared to non-musicians, which the researchers attributed to use and practice, not genetics. Other researchers suggested that listening to music enhances memory and has positive effects on cognition.

A noteworthy Canadian study published in the August, 2004, issue of Psychological Science showed that music can boost I.Q. somewhat, but in this case, the brains affected belonged to first-grade pupils, not college students or infants. The researchers, from the University of Toronto, recruited 144 youngsters via newspaper ads offering free music lessons. They divided the kids into four groups: one group got keyboard lessons, another singing lessons, another drama lessons and the fourth no lessons (these kids got the music lessons promised by the ad the year after the study ended).

While all of the kids' IQs improved, music lessons increased the IQs more than drama or no lessons. The youngsters in the drama group showed improvements in social skills. The researchers suggested that the fact that the kids who got music lessons showed improvement in not just one skill – math, for instance – but in all areas may mean that the lessons reinforce things that they were already learning in school: memory, concentration, practicing a skill, and understanding a new "language." They also said that the study doesn't reveal anything about the long-term effects of the music lessons.

We'll need more research to tell us what effects music and music lessons have on youngsters' intellectual capabilities. However, there's little doubt that listening to music is good for you. Melodious classical music approximates the rhythm of the resting heart (70 beats per minute) and can actually slow a heart beating too fast. And we all know that music influences our moods; it can help us relax and generate positive emotions. As far as Mozart is concerned, his music remains timeless, beautiful, and inspirational. Listening to it has to be good for you.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle on (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being in just eight weeks! Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe Wellness Guide
Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Food Pyramid

Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you and their corresponding answers from Dr. Weil.

Copyright © 2015 Weil Lifestyle
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here