The Mozart Effect and Its Resulting Effect on Tiger Moms

We’ve all heard of the studies about the so-called Mozart Effect — a temporary increase in intelligence experienced after listening to a piano sonata written by the famed composer — which was first reported by researchers at UC Irvine, my alma mater, in the late 1990′s.  A Tiger Mom just can’t ignore such findings.  My baby is going to be a genius, for only $19.98 plus tax!  I jumped on the bandwagon along with every other mom and got my very own copy of “Baby Einstein” DVD.

This video was the first of its kind, showing toys such as blocks, toy trains, and stuffed animals being rearranged veeery slowly by The Hand while the greatest hits by Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven played in the background.  My baby sat engrossed by the images on the screen for an amazing half an hour, giving me a much needed rest on the couch as I kicked up my feet.  I can still picture the little train going around in circles while Bach’s Goldberg Variations played and…well, then my memory sort of goes blank.  You see, something about that video just always lulled me to sleep, and I couldn’t help but drift off until the credits.

The study has since been debunked by further research, but that didn’t stop the creators of “Baby Einstein” from making a whole lot of money until Disney took over the cottage industry which followed.  Did I waste my money?  Well, I can tell you several things that were very positive about the video:

  1. The kids sat still for most of the duration of the video, giving me a little break.
  2. I got a nice nap every time we watched it
  3. I saw some fun-looking toys on the video which I then went out and bought, spending even more money.
  4. They still recognize those classic songs whenever they hear it, though they don’t always know the titles nor the composers.  I have the same problem with songs I hear at the gym while working out.

It’s been over a decade since we sat down and watched that classical music video.  I think I would have discovered by now whether our children are indeed geniuses.  In all modesty, I can tell you that my children are well-adjusted, sweet, and nice kids.  But geniuses?  I’m afraid not.  Oh well — this reformed Panda Mom now believes that a high IQ is so overrated.

They do appreciate music and can sing on pitch, for which I am very grateful. I occasionally even bribe them with $25 Target gift cards to sing background on my recordings. They both play the piano, and Josh and Meg play trumpet and viola, respectively and respectably. It certainly didn’t hurt for them to watch classical music videos for babies, but I’m not sure how much it helped.

If you’re watching your wallet, my advice is this: save your money for their college tuition or future therapy sessions instead.  Listen to classical music together if you like it, but be sure to add a little jazz and Gospel too.

I do know one thing for sure: whenever I hear the classical songs that were on the video, like Goldberg Variations and Minuet in D, I immediately start yawning.  It’s like narcolepsy — I could just fall asleep right there if I don’t exit the store right away.

Did you introduce your kids to classical music early on?  How did the experiment work out for you?

4 thoughts on “The Mozart Effect and Its Resulting Effect on Tiger Moms

  1. I was a big fan of the Baby Mozart videos and would do it all over again. One …and MOST importantly, these videos allowed me to get a shower when I most desperately needed one. My child would watch and be mesmerized while I got clean. Also, in the middle of the night and sometimes the middle of the day, these videos would often calm her down. Baby Mozart, Beethoven, etc also began a habit of classical music in her life that continues to this day. My daughter awakens to classical music on her radio …though the rest of the day is appropriately littered with Justin Beiber classics :). Is she a genius because of it, no. Does she have the sound of music in her head because of it, just maybe. These videos have a shelf life of about two years. My advice would be to never buy a new one, but, if you’re having a baby, ask around to your friends, someone has them and doesn’t need them anymore. There’s also a new series that I got for my niece called “Baby Juno.” That one repeats rhythm and other musical basics. Does my toddler niece keep perfect time? Not at all…but, it’s in her head and someday, might come in handy.

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