Music and Learning: Does Music Make You Smarter?
Ever since the first humans started banging animal bones against each other, music has been an important part of global culture. We use music to express feelings, perform religious rites, or for fun. The influence of music on our body and mind is the seed of numerous discussions in the scientific community. We have empiric evidence that music impacts the emotional state of a person, but what about all that talk that music can make you smarter? Would listening to classic composers help you through college?
We did some research and came up with results that will change your perspective of how music influences our lives.
Music builds brain power
Just like we build our muscles, we can also build our brains thanks to neural plasticity. This is a process that makes changes in our brain through experience. Thanks to devices such as MRI and EEG, scientists can measure the influence of music on changes that occur within our brain. Thanks to these machines, scientists determined that musicians experience growth of brain areas that control auditory, visual, and motor functions. Musical training helps our brain process sound more effectively, builds up motor functions, and improves reading.
Numerous studies show that musical training improves reading with students. Apparently, there is a link between our ability to hear sounds and map speech sounds to letters.
Music reduces stress
Students are under a great amount of stress during the year. It’s extremely difficult to study under stress; anxiety is a powerful intellectual blockade. However, music allows our minds to relax in times of stress. It influences our hormonal balance, allowing us to reduce the effects of high adrenaline or cortisol levels. According to research, hip-hop music is a great way to deal with performance anxiety before an important test.
Reducing the amount of stress we suffer won’t make us smarter, per se, but it does the next best thing. Free of stress, we can focus better on our subject and reduce the amount of time we spend studying.
The “Mozart effect”
One of the greatest composers of all time continues to build controversy even long after his death. Many students would use an essay plagiarism checker to make sure their work is unique; however, Mozart’s work remains authentic and unique in all aspects. Moreover, the Austrian composer was so original that he is the only music-maker whose work is said to influence human minds. In the early nineties, scientists came up with something called “Mozart effects” to explain the changes that occur when we listen to Mozart’s music.
Scientists at the University of California decided to check if there would be any changes in cognitive functions after the study participants have listened to Mozart’s sonata for two pianos. The test subject showed an increased spatial reasoning performance in the first 15 minutes after listening to Mozart’s composition.
Another test included four-year-old kids taking keyboard lessons for six months and a different group who took computer classes. After six months, kids that took music lessons showed an incredible 30 percent growth in spatial and temporal reasoning compared to their peers who took computer training or no training at all.
The effects of Mozart’s work on our brain are not exclusive, however. According to more recent tests, it appears that much of the available music improves spatial reasoning. Therefore, it’s not only Mozart who improves our skills through music, many others do the same. Mozart only sounds better.
Music helps connect the dots
Do you remember the Alphabet song? Most of us used this melody to learn the Alphabet. Some people use this song even as grownups when they need to quickly come up with a position of a certain letter. Songs can help us memorize lists, processes, or even complex stories. The main reason why this is possible is that our hearing system is interconnected with other parts of the brain. As such, our auditory system can serve as a bridge between separate sensory areas.
Songs can teach
Musicians often convey powerful messages through their work. Some artists talk about political issues, others sing about human relations or love. Some songs talk about historic events such as great battles, historical figures, or events that changed the world. Listening to socially engaged music will not raise our IQ but it can open up new frontiers and help us explore topics we didn’t think about before.
The power of music is indisputable. It is one of the first art forms we took on and it constantly evolves. Our brain responds to all sorts of stimuli, however, music has the most incredible effect on our mind. Listening to Mozart won’t make you a genius but it will help approach your assignment with more focus and stronger energy.
Michael Turner is a freelance content writer engaged with several online publishers. As a writer, Michael aims to deliver practical pieces of advice that the audience can relate to. His work is based on in-depth research and authentic sources of information.