[Dixielandjazz] The Mozart Effect

David Richoux tubaman at batnet.com
Fri Jun 3 12:27:22 PDT 2005

This was in my morning paper today - sort of related to the Moe's Art 

Dave Richoux
Study: Parents can help babies get rhythm

Associated Press
WASHINGTON - Gently bounce a baby while you sing, and you'll usually 
get squeals of glee. But it's not just fun: Feeling the beat helps wire 
babies' brains to hear rhythm. So says new research that tested moms 
and babies doing what comes naturally - dancing around together.

Everybody knows babies love music. Around the globe, parents sing to 
their infants in a special way, with a distinctive high pitch that's 
soothingly slow for a lullaby and elaborately bright at playtime. 
Babies catch on quickly, able to perceive aspects of melody and 
recognize different beats at just a few months of age.

As psychologist Laurel Trainor studied how babies perceive music, she 
noticed that parents hardly ever sing to them without bouncing or 
rocking or playing with their feet. She wondered if that movement was 
important developmentally.

Her research shows it is: Using multiple senses helps the brain learn 
about rhythm - how we move indeed influences what we hear - Trainor 
reports in Friday's edition of the journal Science.

"It's wiring the sensory system," said Trainor, of Canada's McMaster 
University. "That early experience that parents do naturally is 
probably really important for learning down the road."

Consider it an early step toward learning to make music, or at least to 
really appreciate it, said infant development specialist David 
Lewkowicz, a psychology professor at Florida Atlantic University.

"It's a very clever kind of study," said Lewkowicz, whose own research 
also shows that stimulating multiple senses is important for brain 
development. "When babies are learning about their world, we should 
never lose sight of the fact that they are learning in a ... 
multisensory context."

Trainor and colleague Jessica Phillips-Silver tested 16 healthy 
7-month-olds by having them listen to music made by a snare drum and 
sticks that had an ambiguous rhythm - no accented beats. Mothers 
bounced half the infants on every second beat, in a march-like rhythm, 
and half on every third beat, in a waltz-like rhythm.

Then the researchers played the music again, this time with the beats 
accented in either the march or waltz pattern.

The babies preferred to listen to the pattern that matched how they'd 
been bounced. (Trainor measured preference by how long the babies 
looked at speakers playing the different selections.)

Watching someone else bounce to the music didn't do the trick. In a 
series of tests, the babies picked out a rhythm only if they'd been 
moved to that beat while listening to the original, nonaccented tune.

Nor was vision necessary. Blindfolded babies picked out the rhythm, 
too, as long as they'd been bounced.

So what if you don't boogie with your baby?

No one needs continual bouncing, and passive listening certainly isn't 
bad. "But they're not getting the full experience that they would 
naturally get in most human cultures" without some bouncing along, says 
Trainor, whose research was funded by the Canadian government. "It 
suggests that you're better off to do music in an interactive way.

"It probably doesn't matter if you listen to Mozart or a rock band or 
jazz," she adds. "All those kinds of music and concurrent rhythms go to 
wire up the brain."

> On Jun 3, 2005, at 10:19 AM, Burt Wilson wrote:
>> Steve--
>> I don't think the Mozart Effect is a fraud at all. Music hath charms 
>> in
>> many ways, to soothe the savage beast or to excite the savage beast. 
>> If one
>> listens to Scriabin, for example, it clears the mind for creative 
>> thinking.
>> Marches take us off to war, excited to kill (also to metaphorically 
>> kill on
>> the football field). The great composers all knew the effects their 
>> music
>> would have on people because all vibrations have an effect. Color and 
>> sound
>> also work together to transmit healing patterns to people. It is 
>> important
>> to understand what kind of vibrations we surround ourselves with. 
>> Even the
>> objects in our homes have vibrations. Paintings have vibrations. But 
>> music,
>> ah, there is the master of all vibrations. That's why the early jazz 
>> and
>> big band patterns drive older people to jazz jubiless and younger 
>> people
>> into rock concerts.
>> I'm back.
>> Burt
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