Mozart and Math: The Effects of Music on Learning Essay Sample

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Introduction of TOPIC

Could listening to the Bach motets become the next form of studying? Educators and renowned researchers in universities like Johns Hopkins University have begun to realize that listening and playing music can shape creativity and understanding in the classroom. Studies have revealed that music may actually help relax a student, and improve productivity (“How” 4). Music can also be a great way to stimulate the creativity, critical thinking, and collaborative nature of students. This effect music has on students is most commonly known as the Mozart Effect. One program in Florida even “mandated children receiving state aid to have at least 30 minutes of music instruction daily” (Jensen 38). This program was just the beginning of the movement to shape young minds with music. Classical music and jazz aid learning, suggesting that music can enhance the academic potential of a student.

Classical music improves a student’s relaxation and focus. Studying with music can relax both a student’s muscles and mind. Furthermore, listening to classical music masks fatigue, relieving students from lack of energy (Paget 5). As a result, many students use music as a tool to increase their productivity. During class, teachers could consider plating music while their students are working. Listening to classical music also helps focus in the classroom: It “can effectively eliminate fatigue… caused by monotonous work” (“How” 4). The newfound motivation results in students who are far more focused. If students are particularly stultified while working in class, teachers could use music as a tool to spark an interest in their work. Students, as a result of listening to classical music, work harder and more efficiently, while continuing to enjoy their classwork.

The effects of jazz on the mind, similar to those of classical music, include increased relaxation and organization. Jazz, although chaotic, gives students a break from a highly structured life: “It allows the mind/ body as a whole to feel safe, soothed and energized” (Campbell 194). When kids play jazz, they open up a whole new level of energy. The music allows a student to feel comfortable in the classroom, and soothes the mind while keeping students relaxed and working efficiently.

Jazz therefore encourages organization and focus. Within an uncomfortable, “chaotic environment, it sharpens their ability to organize” (194). With a strong emphasis on improvisation, jazz requires a student’s thoughts to be organized, as reflected in the classroom. When improvising, a jazz player needs to constantly be thinking about ideas and motifs, almost like they are writing a song each time they improvise. It is impossible to keep improvisation well structured without organization of thoughts. Therefore, jazz not only allows students to become more quick minded, it creates more focused and composed students. Jazz creates a willingness to learn, and sets a mold for organization and understanding in schoolwork.

Listening and playing music stimulates creativity in students. Studies show that “both sides of the brain are used in processing music” (Paget 5). Classical music, because it uses both sides of the brain, emphasizes the individual expression. When both sides of the brain are functioning, students can open themselves up to a new level of self-expression in their work. Playing classical music, similarly, forces students to be unique in how they play a piece. This same creativity translates into schoolwork: students will

listen to their teachers’ ideas, but will learn to apply those ideas in their work. Students will

learn how to show individuality in their work. Similarly, jazz has strong links to self-reflection and expression.

Charles Limb, a surgeon who studies the connection between neuroscience and jazz, stated that “’a part of the brain associated with autobiographical self and self-reflection becomes more active in musicians when they are performing’” (Parry 2). When playing music, jazz in particular, musicians look upon themselves to demonstrate the passion of the music. The passion applies to the individuality and creativity in learning. Students express themselves in their individual work, and try to make it unique. Listening and playing music provides an environment in which the creativity of a student thrives.

Classical music and jazz improve study habits, memory, problem solving, and the willingness to learn from fellow classmates. Music drastically affects how a student studies. Certain “composers often use specific beats (sixty beats per minute) and patterns that automatically help us to relax when studying” (Paget 7). The consistent tempo in the music allows the brain to work at a constant rate. Students can work for hours with symphonies that are at similar tempos. In addition, classical music improves how the mind retains information. Studies have shown that “when information is imbued with music, there [is] a greater likelihood that the brain will encode it in long-term memory” (Paget 5). When remembering something, it is easier to remember the song that was playing, rather than the concepts you were studying.

Studying music is a valuable tool that causes test scores to improve and memory-recall in general. This happens through the moving notes in the music. When you get to a question, and you remember what song you were listening to while you were studying, you could hum or think about the song, and the information would come back to you. The same has been proven for math and engineering. Zell Miller once said “’No one doubts that listening to music, especially at a very early age, affects the reasoning that underlies math, engineering, and chess.’” (Jensen 38). Miller is speaking of what is commonly known as the Mozart Effect.

Researchers stated that listening to Mozart or other classical composers during any type of learning can increase spatial learning, memory, and reasoning (Paget 8). The improvement in deductive reasoning caused by the Mozart Effect, not only improves math, but problem solving in any subject, giving students a far more innovative approach to their work. Jazz, like classical music improves critical thinking, and dissimilarly, jazz teaches students to learn from their peers.

Surrounded by fellow classmates, young musicians tend to learn a significant amount from fellow peers (Green 6). Jazz, unlike other forms of music revolves primarily around playing with peers. As a result, this environment puts an emphasis on learning between students. A young jazz musician grows comfortable with asking the pianist what scale to play over what chord, or asking the drummer what notes to put a marcato on. Young students begin to understand the importance of learning from fellow classmates as well as the teacher. Classical music and jazz clearly enhances study habits, memory recall, problem solving skills, and collaborative nature of students.

Classical music and jazz strengthen students’ learning, suggesting that music can magnify the academic potential of a student. Classical music and jazz greatly improve a student’s relaxation, and organization. Students are soothed by the music, and draw energy from it. Jazz requires organized thoughts, which enhances the ability to organize. Music stimulates creativity in students’ ideas, for example when students who play music begin to branch off and form their own unique ideas. Any ties to self-consciousness of ideas are broken, as soon as students begin to realize their own distinct ideas. In the classroom, students think for themselves, and retain what their teacher says.

Classical music especially strengthens students’ study habits, memory recall, and problem solving skills. The tempos and rhythms of the music help a student retain information. The complex nature of the music helps students with critical thinking and deductive reasoning. The Mozart Effect helps students understand how to study, rather than having students just memorize facts. Jazz and classical music make it easier for students to study, and also encourage self-expression. Moreover, music can create more relaxed, healthy minded, and understanding students. Who knew that listening to some Bach would get you that A on the next math test!

Works Cited
Campbell, Don G. The Mozart Effect: Tapping the Power of Music to Heal the Body, Strengthen the Mind, and Unlock the Creative Spirit. New York: Avon, 1997. Print. Green, Lucy. Music, Informal Learning and the School: A New Classroom Padagogy. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2008. Print. “How Music Affects Us and Promotes Health.” Surprising Effects of Music. Web. 25 Jan. 2013. <> Jensen, Eric. Music With the Brain in Mind. San Diego: Brain Store, 2000. Print. Paget, Roy J., Dr. The Role of Music in Learning. Birmingham: BAAT Ltd, 2006. Print Parry, Wynne. “Music’s Effects on the Mind Remain Mysterious: Scientific American.” Music’s Effects on the Mind Remain Mysterious: Scientific American. Scientific American, 18 Dec. 2012. Web. 06 Mar. 2013.

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