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poster for Festival VivaldiWilhelm Furtwängler understood music as something that integrates everything - intellect, sentiment and sensuality.
Daniel Barenboim

The fact that music has such a profound effect on the brain has been known since ancient times and across all the world's civilisations. Its effect on mood is self-evident, and at Brainware workshops I regularly used the music of Vivaldi to establish a good feeling at the start. This music, being simultaneously calming and enormously energising, provided an ideal preparation for the ensuing study.

Music and the Brain - some Recent Developments

There are many interesting developments regarding the impact of music on the brain, including the following:

  • The Work of Paul Robertson
    Paul Robertson, the leader of the Medici String Quartet, has been carrying out research into the neurology of music and has reported on his fascinating work at recent SEAL conferences. Concerning the use of music as therapy he claims that this is likely to make a profound impact on three of the main medical issues for the future: old age dementia, depression and pain control.
  • Music is All-Pervasive
    It seems that the handling of music by the brain is not localised to specific areas, but is all-pervasive and is also highly sophisticated. The consequence of this is that even in the most brain damaged person, a musical capacity will be retained, providing a vital channel of communication in a situation where speech and other channels may have been completely lost.
  • Suggestopedia
    Suggestopedia has been using baroque and other classical music as an integral part of its teaching methods for many years.
  • The Mozart Effect
    Recent research has confirmed that "listening to Mozart can boost your brain power"! Researchers at the University of California played Mozart's Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major (K448) to college students, and discovered that it boosted the students' scores in spatial reasoning IQ tests by an average of nine points. This finding has been confirmed by other researchers, including those working with Alzheimer's patients.

Further Information

For further information about music and the brain see:

How Opera Can Stop War - Nigel Osborne
Molecular Basis for Mozart Effect Revealed by Emily Singer
Music and the Brain by Laurence O'Donnell
Music and Wellbeing: an introduction to the Musical Brain by Professor Paul Robertson
Neuroscience for Kids - The Musical Brain by Eric H Chudler
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Page last modified: 10 July 2012
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