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Will Exposing My Child to Classical Music Develop His Musical Talent?

I continually see parents investing a great amount of money in classical music CDs and downloads for their newborn and little children, in the hope of making them smarter or more musical literate.My advice to those parents is: go ahead. It will cause no harm to your child, provided you don’t use headphones and you keep the music to a reasonable volume. But it will not affect your child’s IQ either, according to research. Even the scientists behind the Mozart Effect have claimed that there was a misunderstanding of their discoveries as Rauscher, one of the original researchers, declares:“Our results on the effects of listening to Mozart’s Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major K. 448 on spatial–temporal task performance have generated much interest but several misconceptions, many of which are reflected in attempts to replicate the research. The comments by Chabris and Steele et al. echo the most common of these: that listening to Mozart enhances intelligence. We made no such claim. The effect is limited to spatial–temporal tasks involving mental imagery and temporal ordering” (bold not in the original)In my years of developing and experimenting with different teaching methods and techniques  I have found no evidence that listening to classical music per se, enhances children’s music abilities. Having said that, of course I encourage not only children but also their parents to listen assiduously to classical music. I also encourage listening to ethnic music, especially from the cultural background of your family, popular music and jazz.But if the intention is to feed the child’s music ability through listening to music, I’m afraid that listening is not enough. We need to be realistic and reject the myths that, like the Mozart Effect and many children’s TV programmes and interactive DVDs, have become popular and highly influential among families.  In the same way that a person can spend time living in a foreign country without being able to learn the new language, I believe that without an active learning strategy nobody can learn a language, and music is a language too. In conclusion, the answer to the question that began this article is that exposing the child to any kind of music will help to enhance his musical talent, provided that the passive listening is accompanied by a learning strategy that will allow him a fluent and expressive use of the musical language.

Marcello Palace

Director of Stringnote Music Academy

Additional Research by Sylvia Corona