The Mozart Effect Redeemed

From a study by Terry D. Bilhartz, Rick A. Bruhna and Judith E. Olson :

The relationship between participation in a structured music curriculum and cognitive development was studied with 71 4- through 6-year olds. Children were pre- and posttested with six subtests of the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale, fourth edition (SB) and the Young Child Music Skills Assessment (MSA). Approximately one half of the sample participated in a 30-week, 75-minute weekly, parent-involved music curriculum. Statistical analysis showed significant gains for participants receiving music instruction on the MSA and on the SB Bead Memory subtest. Four-order partial correlations analysis found musical treatment influence on Bead Memory scores when the participants were controlled for sex, ethnicity, parental education, and economic class. Treatment also produced higher scores on other SB measurements for select populations. This study suggests a significant correspondence between early music instruction and spatial–temporal reasoning abilities.

black and white photograph of boy about six playing grand piano

Boy Playing the Piano
Rebecca Marvil

I hear a lot of parents want their children “exposed to music” and it always makes me think of being “exposed to chicken pox.” Now scientists have shown that music instruction before beginning first grade significantly helps spatial-temporal reasoning. But here’s the thing: the results were after 75 minutes a week, for 30 weeks, with the parents involved. If a child is just exposed to music, that child is not going to get the parent-involved instruction, nor 75 minutes a week, and children left to their own devices rarely stick to anything for thirty seconds, let alone thirty weeks. Yes, 75 minutes a week is fifteen minutes, five days a week. Is that too much to ask for improved brain function?

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