Listening & Learning: January

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music for studyingHave you ever heard of the musical phenomenon called the Mozart Effect?

A French researcher named Dr. Alfred Tomatis introduced the concept in his 1991 book Pourquoi Mozart? (Why Mozart?), suggesting that listening to the music of Mozart can help ‘retrain’ the ear of children with learning disabilities – it can help stimulate healing of the mind, or even expansion of the brain itself.

In fact, through his research, Tomatis claimed Mozart helped adults with depression, assisted them in learning a second language faster, harnessed their communication skills, improved their creativity, and even contributed to bettering their on-the-job performance.

The ‘Effect’ became more popularized through former music critic Don Campbell’s book, The Mozart Effect. In the book, which realized the entrepreneurial benefits of such a claim, Campbell theorized that listening to Mozart will temporarily enhance the brain’s ability to generate and conceptualize solutions to relatively complex problems. Although highly controversial and containing many flaws, Campbell’s book caught on like wild fire.

So much so that in the U.S state of Georgia, the governor decided that funds should be used to buy a Mozart CD for every newborn Georgian.

Although there has been no direct evidence for enhancement of overall intelligence, music does hold a special place in the minds of many academics and students alike.

Music in the ‘classroom’

Athabasca University professor Reinekke Lengelle in the Master of Arts Integrated Studies (MAIS) program uses music to promote successful writing for herself and her students. Students write “proprioceptively” while listening to Yo-Yo-Ma’s Unaccompanied Cello suites in the course Writing the Self (MAIS 616).

When penning her dissertation, Career Writing: Creative, expressive, and reflective approaches to narrative and dialogical career guidance, Reinekke Lengelle sat at a table in the corner of the living room and played Chopin through her headphones to focus on her writing while her children watched TV.

“It helped calm my brain in a way that allowed me to keep writing – to keep focused. It was very calming. It sometimes felt like the keyboard was a kind of piano on which I was composing. I think the writing is better for it too – there is more beauty in it. Scholarly articles should be inviting to read from an auditory point of view,” says Lengelle.

“I didn’t thank Chopin in my forward, though in hindsight, I should have.”

Check in each month

We’ll outline a few musical suggestions to help you with your studies. Just like with your educational pursuits, it may take some trial and error before you find what really works for you. We hope you enjoy January’s selections. 

What is your go-to study music? Comment below!