Music Doesn’t Make you Smarter. Ten ways to use brain based research in training #5

You may well have heard that listening to Mozart makes you smarter and if you do an internet search you’ll find plentyof information to tell you that music helps you think better, study better or generally become more intelligent.



Much of this data seems to stem from an original piece of research in 1993 by a psychologist called Frances Rauscher (et al) who reported findings of enhanced spatial task performance among college students after exp

osure to Mozart’s music. These findings were over-interpreted to lead to the popular ‘Mozart Effect’ myth.

Subsequent analysis (called meta-analysis) of multiple experiments and papers shows that the accumuated evidence does not demonstrate any enhanced abilities through listening to Mozart.

There do seem to be some short term effects on temporary arousal and positive emotions from listening to certain types of music and that learning to play music may be valuable for children in developing working memory and in helping them learn languages and to read.

You may also be aware that major and minor keys can sound happy or sad respectively and it’s thought this might be linked to our speech patterns. An experiment in 2010 found that sure enough, the frequency relationships in excited speech closely matched those of music in major keys, while those of forlorn speech matched minor music. The team also found the same association for Mandarin Chinese speakers, suggesting the link is common to different cultures, if not universal.

So you can use music to change the emotional environment in a room but of course you can’t be certain you’ll create the same mood in everyone though this research seems to indicate that there may be strong biological roots for our emotional link to music.

Another way to use music in a training environment is to condition particular pieces of music to particular activities eg ‘coming back after a break music’.

Find out about using multisensory media for learning at



Warm Regards

Stella Collins (MSc, FITOL)