The Power Of Music: Psychology Of Classical Music

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Music is an important factor in social relationships and is often part of how people define themselves. Lots of people listen to music to make them feel an emotion, whether that be to make them happy, sad, calm, or excited. But can music help your mental health? Can classical music aid your intellectual abilities, emotional health, and cognitive behavior? Could music even help kids with severe mental disabilities? This essay with include studies on work performance, emotion, and high intelligence, studies on some of our world geniuses such as Albert Einstein, behavioral perspectives of music, The Mozart Effect, and lastly the effects on people with mental disabilities. Classical music aids in productivity and boosts mental health by blocking out distractions, activating our left and brain with certain tempos, and by providing a calming effect.

Classical music provides a link to high intelligence. Researcher Satoshi Kanazawa of the London School of Economics and Political Science, based his reasoning on what he calls the Savanna-IQ Interaction Hypothesis, which suggests that intelligent people are more apt than their less-brainy peers to adopt evolutionary novel preferences and value (Jacobs 2011). Purely instrumental music is a novelty, which by Kanazawa’s understanding means more intelligent individuals are more likely to appreciate it. To back up his assumption, Kanazawa used data from the 1993 General Sociology Survey, conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. The 1,500 respondents were asked to rate 18 genres of music on a scale of 1 to 5. He found that more intelligent Americans are more likely to prefer instrumental music as big band, classical and easy listening than less-intelligent Americans. Overall, this thesis is clearly impossible to prove and certainly debatable but these studies definitely link classical music to high intelligence. The Mozart Effect has been a subject of research geared towards our youth for many years. The Mozart Effect is the idea that if children or even babies listen to Mozart or other classical music composers they will become more intelligent (Hammond 2013). The Mozart effect was first reported in 1993 by scientists at the University of California, Irvine, who asked individuals to listen to Mozart’s sonata for two pianos for 10 minutes, while others listened to either silence or relaxation audio designed to lower blood pressure. The study found that subjects who listened to Mozart showed significant increase in spatial reasoning skills for at least 10-15 minutes (Jason 2010). After years of training, the kids who have done music training are better able to synchronize to the beat and to remember the beat; this can serve to promote other cognitive skills, such as reading and speech (Hammond 2013). Your training will be more effective if you start at a younger age; this will improve the connection between the two motor regions of your brain (Hammond 2013). This relates to the phenomenon that learning to play the violin or piano at a young age helps your hand eye coordination (Hammond 2013). This shows that practice improves these connections in your brain. The results of various studies have proven to be controversial. Most critics argue that the ‘Mozart effect,’ is due to the ‘enjoyment arousal’. (Jason, 2010) Hinting that there increased spatial reasoning was due to their enjoyment and appreciation of the music rather than any of Mozart’s music affecting their cognitive abilities.

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Music can provide an outlet and de-stressor to employee anxiety and keep you calm to focus on tasks (Lesiuk 2005). At the point when classical music summons a pleasant mood and excited state, partcipants perform better on non-musical labor. Music serves as an anxiolytic treatment, which prevents or reduces anxiety (Lesiuk 2005). A study by Knight and Rickard (2001) explored the effect of classical music on participants’ subjective and physiological stress levels involving preparation of an oral presentation. The study showed significant increases in physiological stress for those who prepared for the task without music, while the presence of music showed significant decreases in overall stress and anxiety (Lesiuk 2005). Although, most of the time participants value their own preferred music when considering the music that best relaxes them. There has also been a number of studies showing benefits of music listening on work productivity. Music is shown to help make repetitive tasks easier. A series of experiments has investigated the relationships between the playing of background classical music during the performance of monotonous work shows increased capability in fufilling the task. The results give a solid justification to the idea that economic benefits can accrue from the use of classical music in industry (Lesiuk 2005). Dr. Lesiuk’s research focuses on how music affects workplace performance. In one study involving information technology specialists, she found that those who listened to music completed their tasks more quickly and came up with better ideas than those who did not, because the music improved their mood. Music in general helps drown out the yapping of your office co-workers and allows you to more easily focus on your task. The reason classical music is one of the best for work and study is because lyrics can become very distracting. Since tuning in to words initiates the language focal point of your brain, trying to focus on other language related tasks such as typing, would be almost impossible for one to retain or be successful on your work or task (Lesiuk 2005).

So stemming off of the last paragraph, how does music affect memory? Music arouses associations between the two sides of the mind and actuates brain zones related with emotional, intellectual, and memory fufilling (Uhn 2019). Mozart’s music and baroque music has a 6- beats per minutre pattern, which activates the left and right brain (O’Donnell 2000). The simultaneous use of the left and right brain action maximizes learning and retention of information (O’Donnell 2000). Music therapy is considered one of the more effective exercises for dementia patients. This kind of therapy helps affect emotions, stimulate cognitive functioning, and therefore help with memory as well. Exercises that activate both sides of the brain simultaneously, for example, playing an instrument or singing, causes the brain to be more adequate for processing data (O’Donnell 2000). For example, Greeks sang their dramas because they understood how music could help them retain information more easily. A Bulgarian psychologist, Dr. George Lozanov, designed a way to teach foreign languages in a fraction of the normal learning time. Under this system, students could learn up to one half the vocabulary and phrases for the whole school term. This amounts almost to 1,000 words or phrases in one day. The average retention rate of his students was 92% (O’Donnell 2000). Dr. Lozanov’s system used certain classical music pieces from the baroque period which have a 60 beats per minute pattern (O’Donnell 2000). This shows that uses soothing music without words and with a specific pattern can help one’s retention rate. His students had a recall accuracy rate of almost 100% even after not reviewing the material for four years (O’Donnell 2000). Another great study is by researchers from the University of North Texas. By listening to Mozart’s Sonata for Two Piano’s before taking a test, many students improved exam scores. This type of music releases neurons in the brain which helps the body to relax (O’Donnell 2000). There were three groups invovled, one listened to Mozart Sonata before taking the text, the next group listened to a tape for relaxation, and the last group just listened to complete silence. The first group listened to a Mozart sonata before taking the test. The first group has the highest score with an average of 119, the second group had an overall lower average of 111, and the third group had the lowest score with an average of 110. (O’Donnell 2000). The studies show how clearly the effects of the music you listen to and the tempo can improve retention rate.

Studies have shown that classical music can also help children with special needs through a variety of improvements such as reduced stress, increased IQ, and improved ability to concentrate. (Miele 2013). When a child hears classical music, it can create the ideal conditions for learning and creativity. Music therapy is a huge benefit for children with cognitive disorders, especially for those with ADD, ADHD, and autism. Music therapy will help them feel calmer and less impulsive. These children are therefore more comfortable opening up about their feelings subjected to classical music. These therapists have shown to help their clients overcome learning capabilities and communicate better with others (Miele 2013). Furthermore, many children have improved their ADHD symptoms through learning to play a musical instrument. The act of practicing classical music and listening to it at the same time can lengthen kids attention spans. (Miele, 2013) One of the smartest men who ever lived did extremely poor in school as a young boy. Albert Einstein himself says the the reason he became so smart is because he learned to play the violin. A friend of Einstein, G.J. Withrow said the way Einstein figured out his problems and equations was by improvising on the violin (O’Donnell 2000).

Mozart’s music has a beneficial effect on those suffering from epilepsy. A study of epileptics found that listening to Mozart’s music, even when unconscious, decreased epileptiform brain activity in the majority of subjects (Copley 2009). One study, presented at the American Psychological Association’s 2015 annual convention, reported positive results both from the Mozart sonata and from a classical jazz recording (Jacobs 2018). The study featured 45 children varying and age, all diagnosed with epilepsy. Each was hooked up to an electroencephalogram (EEG). Epileptic activity was measured for a total of 25 minutes: five minutes of silence; five minutes to an excerpt of Mozart’s Sonata for Two Pianos; five more minutes of quiet; five minutes of a different music piece; and five more minutes of silence. There was a significant decrease in epileptic activity on EEG in the children while listening to Mozart compared to the first silence. The researcher felt that the repetition of the melodic line in Mozart’s music reflects aspects of our brain and bodily function (Jacobs 2018).

One cannot deny the power of music. These studies show how effective classical music is on one’s emotions, productivity, intelligence, and memory. Adding classical music to your daily life will settle your mind and soothe your soul. Just better sleep alone is worth starting to listen to classical music. Start and end your day with some Mozart, Bach or Beethoven and derive the many benefits of classical music.


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