The popular belief that Mozart’s music boosted your IQ began with a 1993 study that popularized the term “The Mozart Effect”. The theory states that listening to Mozart actually raises your IQ and improves your cognitive abilities. In recent years the study has been largely discounted, yet it started an important conversation about the impact classical music, and music in general, has on our brain.
Since the Mozart Effect came into vogue, researchers have suggested that the results which lead to the theory have more to do with classical music improving your mood than your IQ. The reality is that listening to classical music while you study will not literally make you smarter, but it will make you feel more positive and could have benefits for improved learning outcomes. Studies have also shown it can help students in a variety of other ways, such as improving sleep patterns, boosting the immune system, and reducing stress levels.
University research in France, published in Learning and Individual Differences, found that students who listened to a one-hour lecture where classical music was played in the background scored significantly higher on a multiple choice questionnaire related to the content of the lecture than an academically equal group of students, who heard the same lecture without classical music.
The researchers used excerpts from Bach’s Third Brandenburg Concerto, Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker and Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. They speculated that the music put students in a heightened emotional state, making them more receptive to information.
Researchers from the University of San Diego found more evidence on the mood-boosting capabilities of music, specifically classical music. They examined the effect of listening to music on cardiovascular recovery. Participants who listened to classical music had significantly lower blood pressure levels than the participants who heard no music. But, they also found that the genre of music matters. Musical styles like jazz and pop did not produce significantly better recovery than silence. The data suggest that listening to music may serve to improve cardiovascular recovery from stress, although the genre of music may matter.
Background music may also provide motivation to students. During long study sessions, music can give you the energy you need to keep going. By creating a positive mood and energy level, classical music indirectly boosts memory formation.
Despite the mood and study boosting powers of classical music, it is important to note that all classical music is not created equal for focus and studying. Skipping large orchestral pieces, in favour of solo piano pieces, string quartets, and guitar music is the way to go.
We have created a Study Piano Channel, filled peaceful, meditative, melody-driven solo piano music. It’s music that doesn’t distract, that doesn’t get in the way of your focus. More than just studying, this piano music is a great accompaniment to time spent relaxing, reading, during times where concentration is needed, or just some soft music while you work.