The Mozart Effect: who cares ?

Look, I fear we may have our priorities in the wrong place with all this talk of the ‘ Mozart Effect’ and the supposed scientific research in support of / contradicting the idea that playing classical music to babies will develop certain neural pathways, will improve cerebral connections or empathetic emotional understanding.

20130304-195755.jpgEvery so often, some Worthy Boffin either propounded or rails against the view that a baby’s development can be greatly enhanced if classical music, particularly the music of Mozart, is played to them. What strikes me about all this is that it isn’t important At All. When we are concerned with how we can programme our children through the use of music, we have perhaps lost sight (or, more pertinently, sound) of what music can bring.

As a professional musician and parent, I can say with complete conviction that it’s not the supposed cognitive-enhancing possibilities of listening to music, or the more developed emotional empathy with others that music can assist in developing that interests me, or that I want for my children from music. What I want is for them to have the opportunity to experience music for themselves, to listen to a wide variety of music, from Minimalism to Miles, and find out if there’s some that they like, and for them to have the chance to explore more of it if they do. I want them to learn to play an instrument or to sing so they can find another creative pastime, a social activity in which they can participate with others if they enjoy doing so.

I’m not interested in attempting to programme my children into wunderkindern through exposure to pieces from the Austro-Germanic musical tradition, in the hope that they develop superior synaptic connections in order to make them better children, if such a thing were actually possible. And for anyone who’s seen A Clockwork Orange, surely that way madness lies…

So, let’s just forget all the bullshit about the enhancements that the Mozart Effect is supposed to offer, and just allow our children to enjoy music for themselves as a creative pastime, rather than as a conditioning tool for the betterment of their cerebral performance. Music is not, and should not be, about making ‘better’ babies, or assisting in the development of certain physiological capacities that will improve children. Music can do many things, not least of which is to offer fertile ground for lots of utter crap to be talked by lots of idiots.Get a grip, everyone…

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