In 1997 Don Campbell published a book called The Mozart Effect. When people hear this, they think Campbell claimed that children raised listening to Mozart help children become smarter. Campbell’s actual suggestions, based on anecdotal evidence, are more specific: that music of the Viennese Classical period can connect with those who are mentally isolated from people, such as those with autism, and can help infants react and think better.
He also claimed that the music of Mozart in particular contributes to improved working of the higher brain functions, especially logical and mathematical concepts.
Although Campbell’s work is not science, interesting anecdotal evidence does point to Mozart’s music contributing to increased mental health.
Pioneering French listening researcher Alfred Tomatis, author of The Conscious Ear, studied how erroneous hearing could be the root cause of a variety of ailments. He believed that speech problems are often related to personal family problems and the resulting oral communication issues that can arise. One of his most famous patients was the French actor Gerard Depardieu.
In the mid-1960s, Depardieu was a tongue-tied young man still struggling to become an actor. He came from a dysfunctional family, experienced educational failures, as well as several personal tragedies. He wanted to be an actor, but stammered when trying to express himself.
He came to the Tomatis Center and Dr. Tomatis determined that Depardieu’s voice and memory problems resulted from deep emotional problems.
Depardieu asked what could be done to help him, and the doctor’s reply amazed him:
“For the next several weeks, I want you to come here every day for two hours and listen to Mozart.”
Depardieu started the next day listening to Mozart on headphones. After only a few sessions, his appetite improved, he slept better, and he experienced more energy.
Soon he began speaking more clearly. Months later, he returned to acting school demonstrating a new confidence, grace, and bearing.
He is now highly regarded as one of the great actors of his generation.
“Before Tomatis,” Depardieu said, “I could not complete any of my sentences. He helped give continuity to my thoughts, and he gave me the power to synthesize and understand what I was thinking.”
From the book, Mozart and Great Music: