Does listening to Beethoven make you smarter? (3 insights)

This blog post aims to answer the question, “Does listening to Beethoven make you smarter?”, explores Beethoven’s life as a classical musician and studies the impact of his music on intelligence to help understand the answer. 

Does listening to Beethoven make you smarter?

No, listening to Beethoven does not necessarily make you smarter. The following are 3 insights into why listening to Beethoven does not make you smarter –

  • It has not been proven that listening to classical music improves IQ.
  • Mozart effect.
  • Blur effect.

These 3 insights into why listening to Beethoven does not make you smarter will be discussed in further detail below after taking a deeper look at who Beethoven is. 

Who is Beethoven?

Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer who dominated the musical landscape between the Classical and Romantic periods. Ludwig van Beethoven was often recognised as the greatest composer who ever lived, dominating an era of musical history like no one else before or since. 

His art, rooted in the Classical traditions of Joseph Haydn and Mozart, extends to include the new spirit of humanism and incipient nationalism expressed in the works of Goethe and Friedrich von Schiller, his elder literary contemporaries; Kant’s stringently redefined moral imperatives; and the ideals of the French Revolution, with its passionate concern for the individual’s freedom and dignity.

He demonstrated the capacity of music to transmit a philosophy of life without the need of a spoken word more vividly than any of his predecessors, and several of his pieces include the strongest declaration of the human will in all music, if not all art. 

Though he was not a Romantic himself, he became the model for many of the Romantics who came after him, particularly in his concept of the programme or illustrative music, which he described in conjunction with his Sixth (Pastoral) Symphony as “more an expression of feeling than painting.”

In terms of musical form, he was a trailblazer, expanding the breadth of the sonata, symphony, concerto, and quartet, and combining the worlds of vocal and instrumental music in a way never done before in his Ninth Symphony. 

His personal life was distinguished by a valiant fight against deafness, and some of his most important works were written during the final ten years of his life when he was completely deaf. 

In an era when palace and church patronage was dwindling, he not only supported himself via the sale and publishing of his compositions, but he was also the first musician to be paid for composing as and when he pleased.

What are these 3 insights into why listening to Beethoven does not make you smarter?

It has not been proven that listening to classical music improves IQ.

It has not been proven that listening to classical music improves IQ in children or adults. Indeed, studies show that young children who watch classical music-based television learn fewer words than children who watch conventional television. Learning to play a musical instrument, on the other hand, has been found to improve cognitive skills over time.

Classical music, on the other hand, has been shown to alleviate tension and help individuals feel peaceful and relaxed. Students who listen to this style of music are 12 per cent more likely to do well on their tests. Beethoven’s “Fr Elise,” for example, aids children in remembering more information and studying for longer periods of time.

Mozart effect.

A tiny research published in 1993 found that college students who listened to a Mozart sonata before taking an IQ test scored higher in spatial reasoning than those who did not. However, the “Mozart effect” wiped gone in less than 15 minutes, and researchers can’t agree on what caused it. 

Classical music is claimed to boost intelligence in youngsters, however, empirical data contradicts this. The so-called Mozart effect is one of parenting’s most enduring misconceptions. 

It is the belief that through listening to Mozart’s music, youngsters and even newborns would become more clever. However, the picture is more mixed when it comes to the scientific proof suggesting it might make you smarter.

The phrase “the Mozart effect” was created in 1991, but it was a research published in the journal Nature two years later that ignited widespread media and public interest in the theory that listening to classical music enhances the brain. It’s one of those concepts that makes sense.

Although the Mozart effect is often associated with newborns and little children, the majority of these experiments were done on adults, whose brains are at a totally different stage of development. The study cited above wasn’t done on children at all; rather, it was done on young adult students. 

There were just 36 pupils that took part. They were given a variety of mental activities to complete on three occasions, and before each assignment, they listened to ten minutes of quiet, ten minutes of relaxation instructions on tape, or ten minutes of Mozart’s sonata for two pianos in D major (K448).

Students who listened to Mozart performed better on tests that required them to mentally design shapes. Students performed better in spatial tasks where they had to look at folded-up pieces of paper with cuts in them and anticipate how they would appear when unfolded for a short period of time. 

However, as the authors point out at the time, this impact only lasts around fifteen minutes. So it’s unlikely to provide you with a lifetime of increased intelligence.

More studies followed, with a meta-analysis of sixteen independent studies confirming that listening to music improves our capacity to manipulate shapes mentally for a short time, but the effects are fleeting and it does not make us smarter.

A broader meta-analysis of a larger number of trials indicated a favourable impact in 2010, but that other types of music were as effective. Listening to Schubert was just as pleasant as hearing a chapter read aloud from a Stephen King novel, according to one research. 

But only if you have fun with it. So, rather than the exact sounds you hear, perhaps enjoyment and involvement are more important. 

Blur effect.

Big research involving 8,000 youngsters was done in the United Kingdom in 2006. 

They were given the option of listening to ten minutes of Mozart’s String Quintet in D Major, a talk about the experiment, or a sequence of three pop songs: Blur’s “Country House,” Mark Morrison’s “Return of the Mack,” and PJ and Duncan’s “Stepping Stone.” 

Music enhanced the capacity to anticipate paper forms once again, although this time it was a Blur effect rather than a Mozart effect.  Children who listened to Mozart performed well, but those who listened to pop music performed even better, indicating that past preference may have a role.

However, there is a method by which music might influence your IQ. It takes a little more work than playing a CD. Learning to play a musical instrument can help your brain function better. 

According to Jessica Grahn, a cognitive scientist at Western University in London, Ontario, a year of piano lessons paired with consistent practice can boost IQ by up to three points.

According to certain studies, kids in the womb respond more to composers like Vivaldi and Mozart than to others. Furthermore, additional studies appear to show a link between children’s academic achievement and their ability to acquire a musical instrument – or, to put it another way, that playing a musical instrument makes them “smarter.”

In addition to increasing intellect, research has revealed that listening to classical music has additional advantages. Classical music may help people relax, as evidenced by how doctors are now using music therapy to treat conditions like dementia and insomnia. 

Even if you are not persuaded that listening to music makes you smarter, there is little question that it may help you enhance your health in other ways.

It is beneficial to listen to classical music. Music is a stimulant to the brain in general. According to Inc., listening to music keeps your brain active by forming a link between your memory and emotional centres. 

The defining aspect, though, is not the type of music you like, but the type of music you like. Classical music isn’t going to be much of a stimulant if you find it uninteresting.

Classical music is more musically sophisticated than rock or pop music, which means it has a stronger stimulating impact when your brain absorbs it. It’s also a superior relaxant, which is an underappreciated benefit of music for learning. 

Classical music, rather than immediately increasing brain power, can generate a more relaxing environment that is more favourable to thinking. Classical music has been shown to be beneficial to your brain and general wellness studies. 

This does not, however, imply that listening to one symphony would raise your IQ by ten points indefinitely or that you should only listen to classical music. Music should be savoured and cherished, not handled as if it were a vitamin supplement.

Conclusion – 

This blog post attempted to answer the question, “Does listening to Beethoven make you smarter?”, reviewed Beethoven’s life as a classical musician and studied the impact of his music on intelligence to help determine if listening to Beethoven can make you smarter. Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions or comments you may have.

References –

Does listening to classical music make you smarter? BrainFacts/SfN. (2014, February 4). Retrieved from  https://www.brainfacts.org/thinking-sensing-and-behaving/thinking-and-awareness/2010/classical-music-myth#:~:text=Listening%20to%20classical%20music%20has,who%20watch%20regular%20television%20do.

Hammond, C. Does listening to Mozart really boost your brainpower? (2013, January 8). Retrieved from 

https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20130107-can-mozart-boost-brainpower

The ‘Mozart effect’: will classical music really make your baby smarter? ClassicFM. (2018, November 6). Retrieved from 

https://www.classicfm.com/music-news/the-mozart-effect/

Will listening to classical music make me smart? Quora. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.quora.com/Will-listening-to-classical-music-make-me-smart

Prywes, M. This Is Why Classical Music Lovers Are Smarter. (n.d.). Retrieved from  https://www.lifehack.org/594299/this-is-why-classical-music-lovers-are-smarter

Kilbey, P. Does classical music really make You smarter? (n.d.). Retrieved from  https://www.idagio.com/magazine/music-for-your-day/does-classical-music-make-you-smarter/

Bennett II, J. Why Do We Hold onto the Idea That Classical Music Makes You Smarter? (2018, October 24). Retrieved from  https://www.wqxr.org/story/why-do-we-hold-idea-classical-music-makes-you-smarter

Peter. Does Listening To Beethoven And Mozart Make You Smarter? (2022, February 16). Retrieved from 

https://www.mozartproject.org/does-listening-to-beethoven-and-mozart-make-you-smarter/

Mozart effect. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (2022, March 7). Retrieved from 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mozart_effect

Peterson, S. R. Does Listening to Classical Music Make You Smarter? (2015, October 18). Retrieved from 

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