Sure, nowadays you can buy some binaural beats for 99 cents, but Bach and Mozart tapped into brain-bending power long ago.
Studies have shown that baroque music has potent brain-enhancing qualities by affecting brain waves. Classical music in general has been used to:
– Improve performance
– Temporarily boost IQ score results
– Lower stress and anxiety
– Help with post-traumatic stress disorder
One study even used a Mozart Sonata (K448) to help patients suffering from epilepsy. During the test, while listening to this particular piece by Mozart, EEG data showed less epileptic activity. Other studies showed that music had beneficial long-term effects for epileptic patients. The benefits of classical music have been since then referred to as the “Mozart Effect.”
Can Classical Music Make Kids Smarter?
You probably heard the popular idea that if children listen to Mozart’s music, or other classical music, they will grow up more intelligent. This is not actually true. In fact, the original studies were done on students, not children. They found was that the students listening to a Mozart’s piece before a test did better at certain types of tasks where they had to create shapes in their mind. But the effects only lasted about 10 to 15 minutes.
I also think that generally, parents who play classical music to their children probably also have a well-stocked bookshelf and will care a lot about the education of their children. So it may not be as easy as popping a CD and turning your child into a genius, but I’m sure that developing an interest for music early on helps the brain in some ways we don’t understand just yet.
So merely listening to classical music won’t make you or your children smarter, but it does affect your brain waves and can probably enhance your creativity and help reduce stress.
Specific Benefits to Baroque Music
Bach is considered by some as the greatest composer who ever lived, and he certainly had a huge influence over the development of music. Playing Bach relaxes the mind, creating a state of inner peace. Bach’s music is true music for the soul.
Some researchers found that Baroque music was best for to stabilize “mental, physical and emotional rhythms to attain a state of deep concentration and focus in which large amounts of content information can be processed and learned.” “Baroque music, such as that composed by Bach, Handel or Telemann, that is 50 to 80 beats per minute creates an atmosphere of focus that leads students into deep concentration in the alpha brain wave state. Learning vocabulary, memorizing facts or reading to this music is highly effective.”
In one study, students found that they enjoyed the class better when baroque music was playing in the background, and found math classes less challenging.
Some say that baroque music seems to be particularly better than other genres of classical music at inducing relaxation and states of creativity because it generally pulses between 50 and 80 beats per minute, which is close to the human heart. I don’t think that’s necessarily the reason, because many of the movements in the works of Baroque composers are played faster than this.
So why Baroque?
Baroque music is light and lively. Yet, it can be very expressive and soulful, but never falling into the melodramatic. It doesn’t try to hook you with a ton of “hummable melodies” that stick in your head, like those composed by Mozart. It’s often a flow of delicious notes taking you on a melodic journey.
Baroque musicians improvised a lot, and at the time baroque music was considered a bit wild. After that period, starting around the death of Bach in 1750, music became more regimented, with the classical period of Mozart, Haydn, and early Beethoven works.
After the classical period comes the Romantics, with later Beethoven works, Wagner, Berlioz, Chopin, Brahms, Mahler, and many others. Music during this period became very emotional, with grand and dramatic symphonies and concertos and wild piano sonatas, often taking you through a torrent of emotions.
Provided by Frederic Patenaude