Does Classical Music Make You Smarter?

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I was once told that listening to classical music makes you smarter. Naturally, I took this into consideration and listened to classical music before I took the SAT’s for the second time, even though I was unaware if this was actually true or not. Notably, I did in fact improve my score by 100 points, but this could have been from various other factors such as I already took the test before, so I had experience, I studied more, etc. Since I have been unsure of whether it was the classical music that helped me improve my score or not since I took the test two years ago, I decided to research more about the effects of listening to classical music, and if it does in fact make you smarter. 

According to a research study in France, classical music does indeed make you smarter. In the study, 249 students were split into two groups. One group being a control group who listened to a lecture with no music playing, one group being the experimental group who listened to the same lecture, but with classical music playing in the background. After the lecture, the students from each group took a multiple choice test based on what they learned in the lecture. Notably, the students in the experimental group scored remarkably higher compared to the students in the control group. Naturally, the French researchers wondered why listening to this music had such an effect on the student’s test performances. Together, they hypothesized that the music put the students into an emotional state so intense that they were more responsive to the new things they were learning (Crotty 2014). 

Another possible reasoning for the higher test scores in the experimental group could be due to a reduction in anxiety from listening to the music, and according to a study from the Duke Cancer Institute, classical music does in fact lessen anxiety. In this study, men undergoing stressful biopsies were played Bach during their procedures, and reportedly had no spike in diastolic blood pressure, plus reported less pain than men who were not played Bach during their procedures. Although this study didn’t determine if the lessened anxiety was due to the fact the subjects were listening to music in general, or specifically classical music, a study conducted by scientists at the University of San Diego determined this answer. In this study, 75 participants had to execute a hard three-minute mental task. After the three minutes, participants were randomly chosen to either listen to classical music, jazz, pop, or no music at all. It was found that the participants who listened to classical music had a much lower systolic blood pressure than the other participants who listened to the other styles of music or who listened to no music at all.

In conclusion, it is clear that classical music does in fact you smarter. Whether it is due to the fact that it helps you be in an intense emotional state and thus make you focus better, or that it lessens anxiety, or a mixture of the two, I highly suggest the next time you have a test, you listen to classical music beforehand.

4 thoughts on “Does Classical Music Make You Smarter?

  1. Jordan Crawford

    This is an interesting blog post. My brother and his wife have a four year old son. While they are trying to get him to sleep, and read to him they play classical music. My sister in law is a professor at Penn State in the Math department. She actually started doing this because another professor in the department said they do this with their child, and they can see some good benefits from it . I’ve been around their kid while the music is playing, and I can see that he is more engaged and focused reading while the classical music is playing.

  2. Mairead Donnard

    This was such an interesting blog to read! As a baby, my parents would always play classical music for me. All of the studies that you cited in your blog were done on adults so it made me wonder how listening to classical music assists in the development of the human brain in babies. Here is an article that you might find interesting:
    In short, the article states that the ‘Mozart Effect’ is a myth, contradicting your conclusion. With this being said, I think that listening to classical music is not super beneficial as it is for adults. To conclude, I think that other means could potentially produce the same type of impact the listening to classical music does if it all comes down to lessening anxiety like you stated. For instance, a scent or reading a book.

  3. Lucille Laubenstein

    I am writing a blog similar to this which is what made it catch my eye. I really enjoyed how your blog took us through your thought process, and as new questions developed through various studies, you found others which answered them. Not only that, but you took into consideration multiple way which music could influence one’s test taking abilities. It was a very holistic approach, and for that I commend you! The one thing I am left still wondering however, is whether or not there could be confounding variables. Could the time of day, location of testing, prior knowledge of the subject, or type of volunteer have effected the outcome? Also, one of your studies looks at students, while the other says participants, could age play a role?

  4. Lauren Eve Ribeiro

    While scrolling through the course blog I had to stop at your blog because I happened to be listening to classical music as I read it. I have also heard that classical music does in fact help you perform better. A lot of people enjoy listening to music while doing tasks such as homework but have a hard time concentrating due to the lyrics playing in the background. I have heard that this is why classical music is so helpful. It gives you the satisfaction of listening to music while doing work, without having lyrics distract you. I think it would be interesting to study the effects of different classical songs. For example, there are some classical songs that are more upbeat than others, do you think that that would have an effect on the performance.

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