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The Mozart Effect: Why You Should Listen to Classical Music During Pregnancy

Every parent dreams of having a smart child. Because of this, they seize upon information obtained from various studies – even if they are unverified – and accept them as absolute truth. Such is the case with the “Mozart Effect”.


Historical Background

In 1993, scientists from the University of California in Irvine conducted a study wherein Mozart’s Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major was played to a group of adolescent students prior to taking a test which measured spatial reasoning skills. These same scientists would repeat this same study in 1995. In both of these studies, they were able to demonstrate that the students had better test results over two other groups that listened to another type of music or were played no music at all.

Dubbed the “Mozart Effect”, it has led to the development of the belief that listening to classical music during pregnancy will make the baby smarter.

Ironically, people dismissed to glaring facts about the research – 1) that the original study did not have babies, much more unborn fetuses as subjects and 2) subsequent researchers from other universities were unable to replicate the results.

However, although the “Mozart Effect” was not duplicated in later research, other studies have shown that classical music – and other types of music for that matter – have effects upon the fetus.


Hypothetical and Anecdotal Benefits of Classical Music to the Fetus

A number of hypothetical and anecdotal benefits have been attributed to listening to classical music (and other music genres) while in the womb. These benefits have yet to be verified because of the difficulties of studying an unborn baby. They are as follows:

  • Listening to classical music aids in the development of pathways in the part of the brain that processes spatial reasoning;
  • Classical music helps to improve memory retention even during the first stages of pregnancy. Some babies have even demonstrated preferences to music and songs that have been played or sung to them by their mother while still in the womb;
  • Unborn babies develop a fondness or favouritism towards music they had heard. After they are born, they exhibit familiarity with these music, allowing them to relax, improve their mood, or help them fall asleep, especially if it is played to them while in their crib;
  • Classical music and complex melodies have a positive impact on their mental well being. These babies when born are said to be healthier, smarter and happier.In contrast, fetuses who have been subjected to loud music, such as rock, heavy metal or rap, are jarred by the thundering drum and bass tracks and discordant melodies. When born, these babies have low birth weights and may be born prematurely. Some may ever suffer from high frequency hearing loss. They also tend to be moody, irritable and get startled easily;
  • Classical music during pregnancy aids in the development of positive personality traits in the baby.


Playing Music to Your Baby

Although the above benefits have yet to be verified through research, pediatricians and other health experts see no harm in playing music to your baby while it is still in the womb.

They do, however, offer two very important warnings:

First, there is no need to put headphones on your belly. Because the fetus is suspended in amniotic fluid, the fluid is able to transmit conduct sound clearly without requiring further application.

Second, the volume of the music that you will be playing should be below 50 decibels. If you are uncertain of how low the volume should be, listen to the noise of your washing machine. A washing machine has a volume level of between 50 and 75 decibels. So adjust your music player to a volume that is lower than the noise of your washing machine.

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