Do you love to listen to your favorite tunes while you’re riding in the car? If you’re like many kids, you might have an MP3 player and a set of headphones that allow you to escape into another world of musical bliss.
Many music lovers report being fond of music for as long as they can remember. In fact, some people can’t remember a time when they didn’t love music. Is it possible to love music from the very moment you’re born? Maybe!
Anyone who spends much time around kids knows that they love music. Even babies respond positively to music, especially lullabies when they’re fussy and want to go to sleep. As they get older, children quickly pick up nursery rhymes as they get their first experiences with stories and reading.
How does this love of music come about? Scientists aren’t quite sure. They do know that babies’ hearing is well developed several months before they are born. In the womb, babies might be able to hear things on the outside, especially music or their mothers’ singing.
Although scientists don’t fully understand why babies react the way they do to music, they have begun to do research on the effects of music on babies’ behavior. For example, one scientific study concluded that premature babies in intensive care units gained weight faster and left the hospital sooner if they listened to just a half-hour of classical music each day.
Another recent scientific study suggests that babies prefer music to speech and seem pre-programmed to move to the beat of music. So if you’ve ever felt like you were born to dance, maybe you were! Researchers believe that music and dance may be important forms of social communication that have existed across cultures throughout the ages.
Some people even think that exposing babies to music at an early age — and even before birth — can make them smarter. This belief might stem from something called “The Mozart Effect” that was supposedly based upon scientific study and widely publicized several years ago.
Scientists have since debunked “The Mozart Effect,” citing that the study referenced only indicated that college students who listened to Mozart for 10 minutes before a puzzle-solving activity did better on the activity than students who had not listened to Mozart. The study had nothing to do with babies.
Why would classical music make you smarter? Experts believe that the parts of the brain that are excited while listening to classical music are the same parts of the brain that are used during puzzle-solving. As a result, listening to classical music may get these areas of the brain primed and ready to go.
Simply listening to music isn’t necessarily going to make a baby any smarter. However, that’s not to say that exposure to music doesn’t pay any dividends. Additional research has shown that puzzle-solving and math skills can be improved by giving young children musical instruction. If a child goes beyond simply listening to music to studying and playing it, there can be definite cognitive benefits.
Even if listening to music doesn’t make you any smarter, it can make you happier. And isn’t that a worthy goal in and of itself? Just like a good book, an inspiring song can lift your spirits and bring happiness on an otherwise gloomy day. Human beings seem to be hard-wired to appreciate and enjoy music and dance, so sing your song and dance your dance because — for whatever reason — you were born to do it!