Mozart Effectnot just for Mozart fans

When junior Victoria Harding sits down to do her homework, she pops in her headphones. But Eminem doesn’t blare from her ear buds, and Jack Johnson doesn’t chill her spine with his carefree lyrics. Instead, the swinging sounds of classic big band jazz comes on. “Jazz music is a lot easier to listen to; it’s just chill,” Harding said. “Jazz just allows me to tune out my surroundings and focus on my work.” Although most teachers won’t let their students listen to music when doing their class work, studies show that if you enjoy the music you listen to you do better at what you are working on. These studies, dubiously named the Mozart Effect, originated when University of Wisconsin psychologists tested their subjects with two different Mozart pieces. Even though the results of these studies have never been duplicated, discoveries linking music with attitude and performance progressed into theories about emotion during work. Many students at Ames High may not listen to Mozart when doing homework, but at least some do listen to modern music. “I’ve never heard of the Mozart Effect before, but it certainly does make sense,” Harding said. With the popularity of mp3 players, more and more students are seen in study hall listening to headphones. “I don’t know if they are listening to music or just trying to be cool, but whatever they are doing, they seem to be concentrating more.” Harding said. While many students enjoy tuning out their surroundings and buckling down on homework, many teachers, including Mr. Webb, enjoy playing music for his class during work time. “I play music because it helps people focus; it fills in the silence so that they don’t have to feel like they have to talk.” Webb said. The majority of the music that Mr. Webb plays can vary from day to day, but it is mostly mellow and indie. Sometimes, though, the music that Mr. Webb plays cannot be agreed upon. “I played music during class my first years teaching and in my last few years teaching, but there was a time that no one could agree what music I would play and it ended up causing a bigger problem than it would have helped.” After going through his own phases of his own listening to music when working, Mr. Webb has first hand experience of whether or not the Mozart Effect works. “I play music because it definitely helps people focus.” The art of classical music is lost and gone among most of Ames High students, but the effects remain the same. Listening to Mozart may not make you smarter; listening to music does make a difference.