The Influence of the Mozart Effect on Creativity: Myth or Reality?
“Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.” Plato.
Music is and always has been deeply ingrained into our culture. From live concerts to Walkmen, and CD players to iPods and smartphones, it is clear that throughout history humanity has always gravitated towards the sound of music. During the late 90s there were even various studies exploring the legitimacy of whether music can actually increase cognitive and creative ability. Perhaps ‘the Mozart Effect’ is something you have already heard of? If not, there was a time when parents were more or less medically advised to play music to their infants, as it was thought to have a major role in brain development. Though it had to be Mozart, not just any old music. You couldn’t play a few bars of heavy metal to your sleeping baby and expect them to grow into a prodigy. Classical music was presented almost like a key to increasing your child’s intelligence, developing their spatial reasoning, and releasing their artistic potential. This idea was advocated by Don Campbell in the 1997 publication The Mozart Effect: Tapping the Power of Music to Heal the Body, Strengthen the Mind, and Unlock the Creative Spirit.
And though it was proven that listening to Mozart did indeed boost a young mind’s cognitive function, this theory has now been mostly debunked. As it turns out, all music or even just an engaging story is enough to provide a short- term boost in a child’s cognitive and motor functions, as long as it is something that is enjoyed by the listener. So, though Mozart is quite spectacular, and there are many who enjoy listening to classical music, listening to it does not result in a more significant effect than any other genre of music. Having said that, there is certainly still something to be said for the unwavering connection between music and creativity.
With further investigation into the study of music, it has now been discovered that when a subject listens to their preferred genre of music, be it jazz, folk, punk or classical, they tend to perform better on cognitive tests. The tempo and tonal key of a piece of music has also been shown to have an effect on how happy the listeners are, which in turn positively influences their performance.
Although the music of Mozart may not have been the answer, it seems the key is simply finding music that makes you happy. Who would have guessed it... emotions play a key role in performance and creativity. Dr. Daniel Levitinn, a neuroscience professor at McGill University suggests that this is due to the brain entering a “mind-wandering” mode in which almost all our creativity transpires. And it has since been proven that listening to music is one of the most effective ways to gain access to this part of our brain’s function.
So, music can really be a fantastic way to enhance your creativity and concentration. Though, it is wise to remember that we are all wired differently. What is pleasant to one person may be unbearable to another and you may even be someone who prefers silence over any music at all and that’s OK too. I think the main message to take away from this, is to find what makes you happy, as happiness will allow your creativity to flourish.