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“Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, a charm to madness, gaiety and life to everything. It is the essence of order and lends to all that is good and just and beautiful.” –Plato (Quotes)

Music is more than just a pleasing sound; it can affect many different aspects of life. Before a baby is born, he can be affected by music by the singing of his mother or even just by the rhythm of the mother’s heartbeat (Campbell). Music can affect students in their schooling. The order and the different aspects of music can improve a person’s recollection so that he can learn more quickly (Music and the Mind). Music can affect people in the work force. Listening to soft background music can relieve stress and help improve efficiency (More Music). Lastly, music can aid in healing the body. Many studies have been done where people have recovered from serious diseases and surgeries by listening to music (Music Therapy). Music can have a powerful effect on the way people live.

Music can affect babies even before they are born. Researchers have found that developing infants listen and learn. Babies aren’t just magically born with the emotions that they have. In his book, The Mozart Effect For Children, Don Campbell wrote that the brain of a child is developed from a few cells “to a complex structure of billions of cells and trillions of connections—and that development hinges on a complex interplay between the genes they are born with and the experiences they have” (Campbell 14). This means that a child’s mind is developing while in the womb, and during the last stages before birth, a baby is able to hear things around him.

Campbell also wrote, “Music speaks in a language that children instinctively understand” (Campbell 3). Music is a way to communicate and make a connection with a baby (Campbell 8). Music can calm or activate a baby’s heart rate in the womb (Campbell 15). Music that relaxes the mother will nurture and comfort the little infant. Music that makes the mother feel happy will help her come closer to her child. Well-structured music, like Mozart, will affect the architecture of the brain (Campbell 23).

Researcher Donald Shetler conducted a study to see if music really affected a child’s long-term development. In his experiment unborn babies listened to music two times a day for five to 10 minutes. After the baby was born, Shetler found that the baby responded instantly when the same music was played by looking to where the music was coming or even, in one case, reached out toward the music source (Campbell 37).

In another study a baby and his mother were put into a soundproof room; in the background the western major scale was played. The baby didn’t seem to be paying attention. When a wrong note, not in the scale, was played, however, the child instantly turned his head toward the music source. This happened repeatedly. Other experiments used more difficult phrases of music, and each time a wrong note was played the baby would react. The babies recognized the wrong notes in the phrases even better than the adults did (Glausiusz 2).

Wolfgang Mozart was exposed to music before he was born. Wolfgang’s father, Leopold, played the violin and composed the “Toy Symphony” while his wife was pregnant. Wolfgang’s sister played the keyboard. Wolfgang composed his first piece of music when he was 4 years old. In the 36 years he lived, Wolfgang composed 600 major compositions, consisting of operas, symphonies, concertos and great pieces for choirs. Wolfgang Mozart was a genius and created some of the most inspiring music ever written. Listening to music before his birth and learning about music at a young age were key factors in his musical success (Campbell18).

People aren’t usually born geniuses. It’s how fast a person learns that determines the genius from the average person. People’s minds grow faster as they listen to music. The brain is divided into two parts: the left side and the right side. The left side of the brain is the side that controls the ability to walk and talk and do the everyday mechanical things. The right side of the brain is the more poetic and artistic side. It contains the thoughts of the genius. To play a musical instrument requires both sides of the brain to be used at the same time (Music and the Mind).

Two of history’s well-known people that were influenced and affected by music were Thomas Jefferson and Albert Einstein. When Thomas Jefferson was writing the Declaration of Independence, there were times when he couldn’t figure out how he should word a certain part. It was during these times that he took out his violin and began to play. This music helped him to transfer what was in his brain to the piece of paper (O’Donnell).

When Albert Einstein was growing up, he did so poorly in school that his teacher told his parents to take him out and get him a labor job because he was “too stupid to learn,” and it was a waste of the school’s money, time and energy to try to teach him. Instead, Albert’s parents bought him a violin, which Albert became very good at playing. Einstein is now known as a genius and one of the most brilliant people who has ever lived. His favorite music to play was Bach and Mozart. Einstein’s friend, G.J. Withrow, said that by improvising on the violin, Einstein was able to figure out his equations and problems (O’Donnell).

Music also affects students in school. An experiment was conducted in 1982 to see if music could help students memorize vocabulary words. There were three groups of students that took a pre-test, a post-test and a test the follow week. Each test was identical. For one group there was no music playing. For another, Handel’s “Water Music” was played softly, and the students were asked to imagine the words. The third group listened to the “Water Music” without being asked to imagine the words. The second and third group had much better scores than the first. A week later the students who were asked to imagine the words did much better than the other groups. The students remembered the words better when the same music was being played as when they first took the test. Also, it was found that memory is affected by the music’s tempo (O’Donnell).

Another reason why the students listening to Handel’s “Water Music” did better was because of the order in the music. “Water Music” is a very complex and complicated piece with a lot of order (Music and the Mind). Music from the Baroque and Classical time periods often utilizes order, which makes the brain respond in different ways. The order in this music is shown by all of the repetition and changes, pitch and mood, contrast and rhythm patterns (O’Donnell).

Also, the way the music is the same and different is another key factor to the order in music. “The brain works by looking at different pieces of information and deciding if they are different or the same” (O’Donnell). In the Baroque and Classical time periods, composers would write music that had a particular theme, and then they would later repeat the changing theme. They would only repeat it once, though, because more than one repetition would cause the person listening to it to become annoyed or angry. Dr. Michael Ballam says, “The human mind shuts down after three or four repetitions of a rhythm or a melody, or a harmonic progression” (O’Donnell).

When subjected to music with a “stopped anapestic beat” from hard rock musicians, the body goes weak. Dr. Diamond said, “The cerebral hemispheres is destroyed, causing alarm in the body along with lessened work performance, learning and behavior problems in children and a general malaise in adults. In addition to harmful, irregular beats in rock music, shrill frequencies prove to also be harmful to the body.” An experiment was done where raw eggs were put in front of the stage at a rock concert. When the concert was over, the eggs were hard-boiled and edible. When they were exposed to the high-pitched piercing sounds, the proteins in the liquid hardened (O’Donnell).

Listening to Mozart affects the way students take tests. One student who took the A.C.T. test said that on the day of the test she wasn’t extremely focused, but she wasn’t unfocused either. On the way to the test site, she listened to her favorite rock music on the radio. She later found that she got a 19 on the test. The next time she took the A.C.T. she listened to Mozart. Her score went up to a 26. She said, “Most people improve on their A.C.T. score when they take it a second time, but I’ve never heard of anyone improving as much as I did” (Olson).

Music affects people at work. On February 15, 1946, as reported in the Forbes Magazine, the Credential Life Insurance Company tested how music would affect the efficiency of file clerks. They found that by playing soft music in the background, the quality and accuracy of the work of the file clerks jumped an average of 19 percent in three months. An American Tobacco Company worker thought that music would be distracting to 400 women taking machine dictations, but the worker found that, with music, the work was done in less time and there was a reduction of late afternoon fatigue. The Music Corporation Wired Service sent out a questionnaire to workers. 1.6 percent of the workers said that music interferes with work. Sixty percent said that music caused less fatigue and 83 percent found work more enjoyable. Music can make a huge difference in the work place. It can calm people down, make work more efficient and effective, and it can make work more enjoyable (More Music).

Another experiment was conducted in a laboratory to determine the affects of background music on attitude, achievement, time spent in the laboratory and task behavior. Of the two labs, one with background music and one without, there was found to be no real difference in attitude or achievement, but there was a big difference in the time spent in the laboratory and time spent on the task (Olson). Music caused workers to work faster.

Listening to background music while working can help a person’s thinking, learning and working. It was found that vocal music needs to be soft, or it can be very distracting. Instrumental music can be louder. The preference of the listener was found to be a very important factor. If people listen to music that they don’t like just because it’s supposed to be beneficial, it will just cause their minds to shut out the music, having no effect (Olson). It is helpful when working nonstop to take a break and listen to or play music. Melvin Chen, who is a pianist-violinist-chemist, said, “I’ve found music helpful when I was working in the lab. When I had a problem that I couldn’t figure out, I would practice the piano for a while and find I’d have the answer--who knows how?” (Stephenson).

Music has the power to heal, relieve pain, reduce stress and fight depression. To relieve pain a person should listen to gentle, soothing stress-reducing pieces of music because, Martha Budke said, “Gently flowing music or music with a slow, steady pulse can help promote relaxation, which can then alter your perception of pain.” To reduce stress, Dr. Hanser said, a person should, “Look for something that deeply focuses your attention, so that the worries of the day—your concerns about what’s happened earlier and your plans for what should happen in the future—slip away. You want to free your mind and distract yourself. The music must grab your attention and at the same time relax your body.” For depression one should listen to lively, upbeat, energetic rhythmic pieces of music (Harrar).

Music can also help patients who had major surgeries to recover faster (A Dose of Music). An experiment was conducted on a girl who was in a coma. The doctors said that she wouldn’t recover and that even if she did, it wouldn’t be fair to let her live because she would not function properly. The parents of the child heard that music could effect healing, so they sang the girl’s favorite song to her through the night. Then, trying to get her to respond, they would sing part of the song and leave out a note in hopes she would sing it back. Whenever a note or a phrase was left out, the girl responded. After doing this for some time, the girl came out of the coma completely, something that the doctors had said was impossible. The girl had to relearn certain tasks, but she recovered almost completely from that experience (More Music).

Music can help heal people with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Karen Magee’s mother acquired Alzheimer’s, but Karen said that “music definitely had a calming affect as the disease progressed. The last time we took her to church for Christmas, she could no longer speak. But she sang the most beautiful old familiar Christmas carols, and she remembered ever word. I felt as though I’d been given my mother back for a brief time (Music Therapy).” Thus music affects the memory and other mental activities.

Music also can help with Parkinson’s disease by lessening tremors and other symptoms experienced by Parkinson’s victims. A scientist did a study where people with Parkinson’s were to walk with and without music playing. The music distracted the people from noticing the pain of doing this and allowed them to go faster, have more balance and take bigger steps. The therapist said, “Music has that nice rhythmic beat that they can follow, and it can even help the tremors that are often seen in Parkinson’s disease.” Music has also saved many people’s lives and aided in their recovery of serious diseases, surgeries or emotions (Music Therapy).

Music is an amazing art that has many powerful affects on humans. As Hal A. Lingerman said, “Just as certain selections of music will nourish your physical body and your emotional layer, so other musical works will bring greater health to your mind (Quote).” Researchers have found many amazing things that music can do. Starting from birth and all throughout life, we are affected by music that surrounds us.


Resources

“A Dose of Music May Ease the Pain.” Current Health 2. December 2000. EBSCOhost. 28 January 2004. http://search.epnet.com/direct.asp?an=3853917&db=ulh

Campbell, Don. The Mozart Effect For Children. New York: Harper Collins Inc., 2000.

Glausiusz, Josie. “The Genetic Mystery of Music.” Discover. August 2001. EBSChost. 28 January 2004. http://search.epnet.com/direct.asp?an=4836309&db=ulh

Harrar, Sari. “Got Pain? Got the Blues? Try the Music Cure.” Prevention. August 1999. EBSCOhost. 28 January 2004. http://searchepnet.com/direct.asp?an=1993807&db=ulh

“Music and the Mind.” Michael Ballam. Audio Cassette. Logan, Utah: Phoenix Production, 1996.

“Music Therapy: One Key for People with Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s Disease.” Tufts University Health and Nutrition Letter. February 2001. EBSCOhost. 28 January 2004. http://search.epnet.com/direct.asp?an=4036087&db=ulh

“More Music and the Mind.” Michael Ballam. Audio Cassette. Logan, Utah: Phoenix Production, 1999.

O’Donnell, Laurence. “Music and the Brain.” Music Power:1999. http://www.epub.org.br/cm/n15/mente/musica.html

Olson, Kristian David. “The Effects of Music on the Mind.” February 22, 1996. http://www.bobjanuary.com/musicmnd.htm

Stephenson, Joan. “Chemists Making Music.” Chemistry. The American Chemical Society. Winter 2004: 14-18.

“Quotes.” Music for the Soul. http://www.musicforthesoul.org/quotes.html


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Baby Quotes
When you're drawing up your first list of life's miracles, you might place near the top the first moment your baby smiles at you.
-- Bob Greene