We’ve all heard of the musical prodigy who was raised on a diet of classical music from the womb. I am positive that exposure to great music will influence a child greatly. We are all products of what we are exposed to and how we react to that stimulus. But just having music playing all the time may not be the great influence on a child that a parent expects. The “Mozart Effect” doesn’t really happen by osmosis. Orderly music is thought to help order the brain to function in a more orderly manner. But can it simply by virtue of being played in the vicinity of the child really help make the child smarter? Probably not. Until the child develops a way to interpret or have a spiritual or emotional connection to the music, it may just be background noise. Parents need to guide the child’s reaction to and interpretation of the music by their own example. If a parent expects a “Mozart Effect,” he had better model the emotional response he wants the child to have.
The ancient Greeks used particular modes of music to cultivate certain responses in children. If the child was being groomed as a soldier, he was exposed to a lot of martial music. Other types of music were used to cultivate the proper climate for developing philosophers, or politicians, or athletes and a host of other careers. Did that work? Who knows. But, clearly people have known through the ages that music plays an important part in culture and society. Music has been used to heighten celebrations, calm the savage beast, convey all aspects of love, and unite us in worship. It has been used in the most sublime and the basest moments of life.
For me, listening to Mozart is a very active sport. I don’t usually play Bach or John Williams or Alan Menken or the Beatles or really any music to relax. For me, music is much too interesting. It claims all my attention and heightens my senses. It used to bug me how some teachers actually expected us students to take a test while they played music. I was distracted from doing the work because I preferred to analyze the music. My father recalled something about my mother when they were first married. He enjoyed letting the music on the radio play when they were going to bed or waking up. One time when she was so tired and half asleep, she got very agitated and kept muttering, "I can't! I can't! I'm just too tired to analyze those chords!" My father got the message that his wife, a very skilled musician, did not rest to music. Neither do I, frankly.
Okay, so not everybody reacts to music the same way. And that is just the point. If you want your children to grow up enjoying good music, you need to show by your own example what good music is and just how to react to it. I have always maintained that good music comes in all types of performance styles and is suited to the many moods of life. CHOOSE WISELY!