Does Music Really Affect the Development of Children?

WebMD Live Events Transcript

Event Date: 09/11/2000.

Campell thinks so and defines The Mozart Effect, as the use of music to enhance quality of life, including health, wellness, education, creativity and emotional expression.

The opinions expressed herein are those of the guest's alone. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.

Moderator: Hello and Welcome to the Parenting Today Program on WebMD LIVE. Mr. Campbell, it's a pleasure having you here today. Before we begin taking questions, would you tell everyone a little bit about your background and area of expertise?

Campbell: I am a classical musician, teacher, and journalist. Having written seven books on music, health, and education, I have been guest faculty for seven years teaching psychology and music at Naropa University, and have been key noter and guest lecturer at over 500 musical, medical and educational institutions.

Moderator: Why do you think music is of special importance in early childhood development?

Campbell: Music stimulates the brain, the emotions, and the body simultaneously. Auditory impulses structure the way we learn to communicate. In speech, movement, and expression, music holds many nutrients for the developing mind of children. It is my work to inform and inspire parents, healthcare providers, and early childhood educators on these great benefits.

Moderator: Tell us about the origins of "The Mozart Effect." When and how did Mozart's music begin to be used for health an educational purposes?

Campbell: In 1957, Dr. Alfred Tomatis, a French ear, nose and throat specialist who began experimenting with children with music with speech and communication disorders. By 1965, he had invented a device called the electronic ear, which took out most of the low frequencies of music, and would send high frequency messages through the right ear, to the left brain for re-patterning the perception of auditory stimulation. By 1980, there were 200 centers worldwide working with autistic, dyslexic, and head injured children and adults. He discovered that Mozart's music was the best organized for orderly time/space/spatial perception. In the 1990's, new research suggested that some of Mozart's music may be beneficial for developing spatial intelligence.

Moderator: Is Mozart the only classical composer you recommend? Is there a place for using popular and folk music with our children as well? 

Campbell: There is a place for all music in our lives, as long as it is not too loud and injures the cochlea. Classical music is well ordered, and Mozart represents that in the music he wrote as a child and young adult. Romantic music, such as Beethoven and Brahms have far more emotional and heroic energies. It is important to remember that no music is an instant cure-all. But the making and listening to music at appropriate times can be quite miraculous. When there is stress or pain, music, and music making can help release the stress of pain. It is most useful at naptime, bedtime, and creative play time. To a young child, the music is movement. It is participating and flowing with the activity and stimulation, or the deep relaxation. Every parent can be aware of the environment, the sound environment, for their child. If there are TV's, computers, radios, and even refrigerators heard in a child's room, it can highly disrupt their sleep pattern. Especially if a child is ill. The ear easily receives auditory stimulation in the last trimester before birth. Many children are hypersensitive to sound, and find each and every sound distracting. Thus, they are often unable to focus on one activity at a time. This is common with children with attention deficit disorder and dyslexia.

suzannegrogan_webmd: I have a seven-month-old boy who has been listening to Mozart since birth. At what age does Mozart's music have the most profound effect on a child's development?

Campbell: Keep up the excellent sonic nutrition! Remember to add chants, songs, and a variety of folk music to his daily diet. I have specific albums for different ages. The Mozart effect for newborns, babies, and for children's' study, creativity, sleep time, and movement. I've just prepared a new album called "Mozart to go" for the car. But please know there's no need to overdose on Wolfgang. Be sure to make up new music with him, and remember, keep the volume from being too loud. Have fun! It is the joy of music that constantly heals.

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