Top Five Studies on Classical Music and Health

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Earlier this month, the German transportation minister released his Adagio in the Automobile CD, a compilation of the slow movements of Mozart piano concertos. He hopes the album will reduce aggressive driving along the country’s autobahn. It can border on the silly, but classical music has been shown to lower stress, make people smarter and provide a homeopathic sleep aid. What other benefits are lurking out there? Here are our top five side effects.*

1. Lowering Blood Pressure

Looking for a calming experience? The most often cited benefit of listening to the three B's is stress relief. The soothing experience when you hear a masterful opus isn’t just imagined; a 2004 study out of the University of San Diego found that after hearing classical music, listeners had lower blood pressure. A 2008 article published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing also claimed pregnant women reduced levels of stress, anxiety and depression after listening to a 30-minute CD of classical hits.

2. Relieving Pain After Surgery

Reach for the Beethoven along with the Bayer aspirin. It turns out that melodious music can help tune out pain. A team out of Britain was able to reduce the amount of opiates given to people recovering from stomach surgery with a steady dosage of classical music. Another study in the Journal for Advanced Nursing showed that music could relieve chronic pain.

3. Making You More Emotional

Music may be the food of love, and a 2001 study out of Southern Methodist University seems to support Shakespeare’s claim. Researchers found that listening to classical music heightened the emotions in the study subjects. Not only were they more expressive and effusive with their comments, but they were more forthcoming as well. 

4. Making You Sleep

If you’re looking for better sleep, why not turn to Brahms? A Hungarian team showed that listening to 45 minutes of classical music before bedtime helped students from 19 to 28, who had problems falling asleep. The researchers suggest turning on the famous Lullaby or similar peaceful pieces, could be an effective way of battling insomnia.

5. Making You Smarter

And the Granddaddy of them all, the infamous Mozart Effect. When researchers in 1993 published studying drawing a link between listening to the maestro's music and heightened IQ scores, it spawned a cottage industry of brain-power boosting products (remember Baby Mozart?). However, later studies have shown that playing his works have lessened symptoms associated with epilepsy.

* WQXR is not a doctor. We only play one on the radio.


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Comments [8]

John Manasco from Nashville, TN

In America, we have 25% of the world's prison population with only 5% of the worlds civilian population. Does anyone know of any studies of the effect of classical music on human behavior as it pertains to violence?

Sep. 06 2014 12:58 PM
Arun kumar from Houston

The German ministry will be successful because in India our drivers listen to the great Maestro Ilayaraja when driving and our accidents rates are much lower for the population.

Jul. 07 2014 09:47 PM
Manish Mishra from New Delhi

It really helped me,after listening classical music our state of mind is constant i.e fix upon an subject that is under considering and help us to release from anxiety and give endless joy

May. 03 2013 10:41 PM
hjhhj from Texas

The Mozart effect was an overblown, oversimplified, example of what happens when mainstream media gets a hold of interesting and complex research data. The truth is that listening to classical music will not increase your IQ scores. What the 1993 research did find was that students who listened to classical music had better spatial reasoning. Classical music is awesome, but you should probably still read a book every now and then.

Mar. 19 2013 04:46 PM
Name from Location


Jan. 27 2013 06:11 PM
J Rosen from Jersey City

I'm glad to hear that it has such beneficial effects on listeners. I can aver that it does not do so well with performers, of which I have been one all my life, particularly in the areas of blood pressure and tendinitis (as a violinist, pianist and conductor, mostly in Cleveland and Boston).

Still, now that I am retired and can be a musician full-time (no longer having to work at it for a living) I can't imagine a more fulfilling way to spend my time.

Nov. 11 2011 12:10 PM
Michael Meltzer

If music were to be put in a vial, labeled and catalogued according to medicinal type and function, I think it would probably be an anti-depressant, possibly a hypnotic.
I'm not sure it always gets rid of stress, but it sure helps the chaos that stress brings with it. Music combs the emotional hair.
That being offered, my own experience does not limit these effects to "classical" music. My quality of life has been improved by jazz, by1940's and 1950's torch songs, American folk music, Russian and Slavic folk music, do I make my point?
I think it more likely that the benefits come from GOOD music. If that's so, then whoever the performer is counts for a lot.

Nov. 10 2011 09:41 PM
David from Flushing

Well, now we know why people fall asleep at the opera and concerts.

Nov. 10 2011 03:43 PM

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