The Effect of Mozart’s Music on Child Development in a Jordanian
Dr Jehan Mattar
4th October 2012
The University of Jordan
Department of Education
Young children who listen to music regularly demonstrate better development
than those who do not. As children grow, their social, cognitive and physical skills
can be enhanced by their relationship with music. The music of Mozart was
introduced into the children’s environment as a sensory background for the standard
curriculum. The purpose of this experimental study was to investigate the effect of
"The Mozart Effect: Music for Children" collection on the social, cognitive, and
physical development of five and six-year-olds. Forty-two children participated.
Twenty-one of them were in an experimental group exposed to music, composed by
Mozart, accompanying their daily school programme for eight months. The control
group, in the same kindergarten, following an identical curriculum, did not experience
any accompanying music. To evaluate the children’s development, a measurement
called "The preschool and kindergarten children's performance scale", established and
developed by Al-Batsh (2001) in Jordan, having the psychometric properties
necessary for the study, was used. The results showed significant statistical
differences in social, cognitive, and physical development favouring the children in
the experimental group. Music can become an important part of any educational
setting. It provides a positive atmosphere, which helps children to experience reduced
stress and enhanced development.
Young children begin to show a preference for the music of their own culture
by the age of two (Levitin, 2006). The early childhood years are crucial to musical
growth, as, between the ages of four and six, we experience a heightened sensitivity to
sound and pitch (Campbell, Campbell & Dickinson, 2004).
Early exposure to music is especially essential during the critical period for
brain development. This critical period takes place during the preschool and
beginning elementary years (Beaty, 2000).
Music is an excellent tool for teaching the first few simple steps of growing
up. Howard Gardner listed music as one of the seven basic intelligences built into our
genetic system, following Maria Montessori and Jean Piaget who recognized music
as an innate intelligence ready to unfold between the third and fourth year of life
There are many reasons for including music in the curriculum. Firstly, music
draws the children into creative activities in the early childhood classroom when the
adult carefully prepares the environment with appropriate materials and encourages
musical experiences (Henniger, 2002). Furthermore, music can become an important
part of any educational setting. It provides a welcoming atmosphere as students enter,
offers a calming effect after periods of physical activity, soothes classroom
transactions, and reduces stress that commonly accompanies examinations or other
academic pressures (Campbell, Campbell & Dickinson, 2004).
Jalongo (1996) notes that children respond to different types of music through
different types of vocalization and body movement. She also points out that early
childhood educators and children who are non-musicians can make and understand
Several ancient philosophers included music as an important part of education.
An extensive compendium of arts education research studies called “Critical Links”
was released in 2002 and showed that musical instruction develops spatial reasoning
and the spatial-temporal skills of understanding and using mathematical ideas and
concepts (Campbell, Campbell & Dickinson, 2004).
Likewise, it was proposed that music may serve as a pre-language, with
centres distinct from language centres in the cortex, available at an early age, which
can access the inherent cortical spatial-temporal firing patterns and enhance the ability
to perform spatial-temporal reasoning (Leng & Shaw, 1991).
Research shows that music should be an essential part of early childhood
experience. “It’s fun, creative, and it’s a proven way to develop areas of the brain for
later academic tasks”, said Elizabeth Stilwell, director of the Early Childhood Center
(Lang, 1999). Many, if not most, children and adults enjoy rhythm and melody and
like to listen to and participate in musical activities, and they enjoy learning through
musical methods or appreciate music in the classroom as they work on nonverbal
tasks (Campbell, Campbell & Dickinson, 2004).
There have been a number of studies investigating the effects of music on
children’s cognitive and social skills. For example, first-graders who participated in
Kodaly music appreciation and movement five days per week, forty minutes per day,
for seven months, scored significantly higher on standard reading tests than a non-
musical group (Campbell, 2002).
Duffy and Fuller (2000) investigated the effectiveness of a music therapy
programme on the enhancement of the social skills of children with moderate
intellectual disability. Thirty-two children, aged five to ten years, from four
intellectual disability centres, participated. At each centre, four children were
randomly selected to participate in the music therapy program. Five social skills were
targeted for intervention: turn-taking, imitation, vocalization, initiation and eye
contact. Measures of effectiveness involved comparison of pre- and post-intervention
scores on five target skills using a brief social skills test specifically designed for this
study. The results reflect significant improvements in the five target social skills
across both conditions following the 8-week intervention.
Furthermore, a study reported that three-year-olds who simply attended twice-
weekly singing lessons for three years performed better than children who did not, in
the arrays of abstract conceptual thinking, play improvisation, originality, verbal
abilities and physical coordination (Campbell, 2002).
Thompson, Schellenberg and Husain (2001) examined whether the Mozart
effect is a consequence of between-condition differences in arousal and mood.
Participants completed a spatial abilities test after listening to music or sitting in
silence. The pieces of music were a Mozart sonata (a pleasant and energetic piece)
for some participants and an Albinoni Adagio (a slow, sad piece) for others. The
researchers also measured enjoyment, arousal, and mood. Performance on the spatial
task was better following the music than the silence condition, but only for
participants who heard Mozart. The two music selections also induced differential
responses on the enjoyment, arousal, and mood measures.
Hallam, Price, and Katsarou (2002) compared arithmetic performance during
silence and calming background music in 31 children, aged 11-12 years, using a
within-subjects design. The results showed that the music condition was associated
with greater completion of arithmetic problems.
Moyeda, Gomez and Flores (2008) designed a program of musical activities to
promote discrimination of rhythmic and melodic elements and the association of
auditory stimuli with visual stimuli and motor activities. The effects of the program
on the vocabulary of preschool children were evaluated and compared with the
vocabulary of children participating in the curricular subject of "Ritmos, Cantos Y
Juegos" (Rhythm, Songs, and Games), and that of children who were not exposed to
either of the two programmes. The results showed significant increases in the
receptive vocabulary only for the group exposed to the programme with musical
activities. The processes that caused the increase are discussed, as well as the
possible use of the program that was implemented as a resource for preschool
Wolfe and Noguchi (2009) examined the use of music to sustain the attention
of young children during conditions of auditory distraction. Kindergarten students
(N=76) were randomly assigned to one of four conditions/groups: (a) spoken story
with no distraction; (b) spoken story with distraction; (c) musical story with no
distraction; (d) musical story with distraction. A one-way ANOVA was computed to
access the difference in mean scores across the four experimental conditions.
Significant results were found. Further analysis employing a Tukey post hoc/multiple
comparisons test revealed significant differences between the spoken story with
distraction condition and the musical story with distraction condition.
Moreover, Wolff (1979) carried out an experimental study with first-grade
children who engaged in musical activities for one year, to determine whether musical
activities would have a significant effect on children's perceptual-motor development.
She found that the perceptual-motor scores of the experimental group were higher
than the scores of the control group (Campbell, 2002).
High (1987) studied the effect of a music and movement program on the
rhythmic accuracy of preschool children, and found that the experimental group
improved its rhythmic accuracy more than the control group. The same conclusion
was drawn by Moore (1984) and Burnett (1983), who implemented a music and
movement program for preschool children with delayed development, and found that
they improved both their motor skills and their rhythmic ability.
In addition, Zachopoulou, Tsapakidou, and Derri (2004), investigated and
compared the effect of a developmentally appropriate music and movement program
and of a developmentally appropriate physical education program on the development
of jumping and dynamic balance in children ages 4-6 years. Ninety children, 42 girls
and 48 boys, participated. Fifty of them were in an experimental group and followed
the music and movement program, which lasted 2 months. The results showed that
the experimental group improved significantly in both jumping and dynamic balance.
Isenberg and Jalongo (2001) have identified the following benefits of music
for child development:
- Psychomotor skills: exposure to music helps children refine their control
over large and small movements.
- Perceptual skills: music allows children opportunities to develop perceptual
abilities, for example, recognizing a familiar tune and imitating it, or tapping out
- Affective development: music naturally leads to emotional responses and
provides many children with important and appropriate ways to express their feelings
Early musical training, even as early as age three, may enhance a child's
overall mental ability, according to UC Irvine neuroscience researchers. It has long
been known that infants recognize and respond to music, and that appreciation for
works by composers such as Bach and Mozart transcends generations, geography, and
culture (Shaw, 2004).
Snyder (2000) indicated that music evokes emotional response and appears to
open the gate to new cortical activity and higher level thinking. Music stimulates and
The questions addressed by the current study are as follows:
1- Is there a statistically significant effect of exposure to music which
accompanies the curriculum on social domain development for the
2- Is there a statistically significant effect of exposure to music which
accompanies the curriculum on cognitive domain development for the
3- Is there a statistically significant effect of exposure to music which
accompanies the curriculum on physical domain development for the
Forty-two children of ages five and six, in two KG2 classes, were selected
purposefully from a special school. The two KG2 classes were assigned randomly,
one class as the experimental group, and the other as the control group.
Procedure and measures
One teacher in the experimental group was trained to use the three CDs of
"The Mozart effect: Music for children", compiled by Don Campbell.
(Campbell,1997) The three CDs were used as follows: Volume 1 – Tune up your
mind, was combined with the academic program; Volume 2 – Relax, daydream, and
draw was combined with the art program and story time; Volume 3 – Mozart in
motion was combined with physical activities.
This collection was used for two continuous semesters, approximately eight
months. Pre-post tests were applied to the two groups.
The main tool used to achieve the objectives of this study was “The preschool
and kindergarten children's performance scale” which was established and developed
by Al-Batsh (2001) in Jordan. The scale consists of fifty behavioural aspects, which
cover ten sub-areas, within three main domains of growth; cognitive, physical and
social. Each of these domains has been embedded within a number of sub-areas .
The scale has the psychometric properties required in this study. For instance,
in the area of validity, it was noticed that the significance of correlated validity for the
domains of the test were as follows: cognitive (0.79), physical (0.83), social (0.82),
and total mark for the scale (0.84(.
The indicators of reliability were extracted in two ways: test-retest reliability,
and internal consistency reliability. The values of the coefficients of reliability for
test-retest ranged between (0.88-0.92) for the different domains, and (0.91) for the
total mark. The coefficients of reliability for internal consistency, using Cronbach's
Alpha had values ranging between (0.82-0.91) for the different domains, and (0.89)
for the total mark on the scale.
To answer the three research questions Univariate Analysis of Variance was used to
determine the effect of exposure to music on the development of different growth
domains according to the group variable.
Table 1 explains the estimated marginal means of “The preschool and kindergarten
children's performance scale” on all social, cognitive and physical domains.
Estimated Marginal Means
The results in Table 1 show that there is an evident difference in the marginal means
between the experimental and the control groups on the social domain of 22.075 in
favour of the experimental group.
The results also demonstrate an evident difference in the marginal means between the
experimental and the control groups on the cognitive domain of 36.685 in favour of
the experimental group.
Moreover, the results indicate an evident difference in the marginal means between
the experimental and the control groups of 12.058 in favour of the experimental
To ascertain the statistical significance of the differences on the development of
social, cognitive, and physical domains, the Univariate Analysis of Variance was
conducted to determine whether there was any statistically significant effect of
exposure to Mozart's music on the different domains. Table 2 shows these results.
Univariate Analysis of Variance Tests of Between-Subjects Effects
Type III Sum
group * sex
group * sex
group * sex
It is clear in Table 2 that there are statistically significant effects of exposure to music
on social development, as the value of F has reached 43.217, and this value is
statistically significant at level (α ≤.05).
Furthermore, it is evident that there are statistically significant effects of exposure to
music on cognitive development, as the value of F has reached 66.202, and this value
is statistically significant at level (α ≤.05).
There are also statistically significant effects of exposure to music on cognitive
development, as the value of F has reached 29.487, and this value is statistically
significant at level (α ≤.05). Returning to Table 1, it is clear that these differences are
in favour of the experimental group.
In the present study, it was found that the music of Mozart accompanying the
curriculum significantly affected development in social, cognitive and physical
domains for the kindergarten children in the experimental group compared to those in
the control group.
In general, because of strong links to emotion, music in the classroom can
promote a positive environment that enhances children’s development. Music
integrates the emotional, cognitive and physical dimensions of the learner, and
accelerates the quantity of information learned and retained, according to Dr. George
Lozanov (as cited in Campbell, Campbell & Dickinson, 2004). In addition to creating
a pleasant classroom ambience, music can be used for specific purposes. Many
teachers have intentionally used music in four ways: to relax; to invigorate; to focus
student attention; or to ease transitions (Campbell, Campbell & Dickinson, 2004).
Music enhances the social development of kindergarten children as it
engenders calmness and relaxation, thus reducing impulsiveness. Music also helps
them to listen to others and communicate more effectively, leading to an improvement
in empathy, and the development of enhanced social skills. This corresponds with
Campbell’s (2002) statement describing music as, “a friend to support and guide”
children, from their first day at school, deepening their experience and enhancing their
daily life, thus improving their social interaction.
Music is an indirect, non-verbal form of communication. It can stimulate
right-brain functioning, associated with feelings. Moreover, it increases children’s
ability to understand their emotions and express their feelings, leading to improved
emotional regulation. Consequently, this will lead to better social interaction with
peers (Montello, 1999).
Additionally, music develops the cognitive domain for children. It has
physiological effects on the body; listening to music has been shown to slow the
listener's heart rate, activate higher-order thinking, and create a positive, relaxed,
receptive state of mind that is ideal for learning (Campbell, 2002). Music provides
children with the ability to become better listeners; it alerts all their senses, especially
hearing. It also helps children to maintain attention during different tasks, which
improves their concentration skills. All of these benefits of music are important in the
development of cognitive abilities. Music is considered the most direct route to
thinking, because it requires neither words nor symbols to be perceived. (Snyder,
Frank Wilson, a neuroscientist, having observed brain scans of children as
they perform certain tasks, reports that when children read words, the language centre
of the brain lights up on his scanner, but when they hear music, the entire brain lights
up like a Christmas tree (Snyder, 1997).
Furthermore, researchers have found that early exposure to music may be
necessary, or, at least, may greatly enhance the development of cognitive processes.
It can promote creativity in children when teachers use it themselves, in a relaxed and
enjoyable manner, to encourage music production in the preschool classroom.
Teachers must lead the way by chanting, singing and providing music (Beaty, 2000).
Thompson, Schellenberg and Husain (2001) and Hallam, Price, and Katsarou
(2002) concurred with Beaty’s statement in their studies.
The results of the experimental group in the physical domain were better than
those of the control group, since the rhythm and flow of music, in an enjoyable
manner, can result in increased coordination, regularity, and speed of activity, as well
as movement skills’ development. For young children, skipping, marching, running,
or dancing to music develops rhythm and grace (Campbell, Campbell & Dickinson,
The use of music in the classroom with the experimental group ensured that
the children moved their bodies. They worked through new knowledge in whole-
body ways, expressing themselves physically. Yet, in the control group, the lack of
music only reinforced the expectation of young children to "sit down, be quiet, and
learn" instead of actively learning, performing reading exercises and drills (Campbell,
2002). Wolff (1979), Zachopoulou, Tsapakidou, and Derri (2004) also found this in
Mozart’s music was selected to help to set the mood in the classroom to
correspond to the activity taking place. The teacher planned this carefully, in an
organized manner, over a long period of time, to ensure maximum immediate effect
on different domains.
In conclusion, it is clear that music certainly plays a very distinct role in child
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