For years, researchers have been searching for links between music and cognition. Many parenting resources suggest that playing classical music to your infant promotes brain stimulation and cognitive growth in hopes that the child will develop more efficiently in a mental and social capacity. But does music really impact the IQ of your child?

1993 proved to be the height of music-brain research with the “Mozart Effect” study, which detailed the effects of Mozart on high school and college students while taking tests. The study demonstrated a correlation between receiving high scores on an exam and the students who listened to Mozart sonatas before the exam. The Mozart Effect, however, proved inconclusive due to the fact that other researchers were never able to duplicate the results. The outcome of the follow-up studies concluded that classical music aides in spatial awareness, but not overall intelligence. Spatial awareness is defined as the ability to recognize the characteristics or location of an object in relation to another object. Related subject areas include geometry, geography, art, and technology.

Researchers have identified that while classical music won’t directly increase intelligence, the complexity of classical music does play a significant role in opening the brain to more complex problems and solutions. The mathematics and patterns involved in writing music, playing an instrument, or simply listening to music with complex structures has been found to aid in the mental and visual solving of puzzles and patterns.   

Other benefits of classical music can include the lowering of blood pressure and an increase in the sensation of relaxation. Classical music has also proven to decrease the effects and frequency of seizures in epileptics. Essentially, studies have shown show that people who listen to complex music, such as classical or opera, are more likely to see an increase in creativity, concentration, and the ability to manipulate spatial relationships.

Here are several great classical and operatic tracks to enjoy with your child:

Ave Maria, Schubert
Waltz of the Flowers, Tchaikovsky
Dance of the Swans, Tchaikovsky
The Flight of the Bumblebee, Rimsky-Korsakov
Sonata No. 12 in F Major, K. 332: III, Allegro Assai, Mozart

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