The Mozart Effect


Dear Artist,

The Mozart Effect by Don Campbell makes some startling claims. By listening to Mozart you might just turn out to be more creative, productive and healthier.


“The Ninth Wave” 1850
oil painting by
Ivan Aivazovsky (1817-1900)

This book is full of scientific studies and lots of anecdotal evidence. For example, premature triplets were separately incubated; one was fed Mozart, one silence, and one Rock. Guess what? The Mozart-fed kid gained weight faster, didn’t fuss, was smarter, and did more with his life. That sort of thing.

Why Mozart? Campbell claims that Mozart, above all others, was “in utero” already a composer. His dad practiced the fiddle nearby while his pregnant mom sang lullabies and hummed a lot. According to Campbell, Mozart’s music also mimics the gurgles and beats that the essentially underwater fetus hears.


“Windmill on the Sea Coast” 1851
oil painting
by Ivan Aivazovsky

The result is a mantra of creative security and a feeling of well-being. Mozart grew up able to compose several concertos at once. The author goes on to show that the Mozart effect can be used to good results with arthritis, autism, burns, cancer, depression, grief, headaches, hypertension, substance abuse, trauma, etc.

If you feel like it, there are three things you might try: A constant low level of Mozart in the workspace for several days, sporadic motivational blasts, and specific symphonies or concertos by headset tailored to high-energy work periods. For the latter I chose a CD of Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, K525, Serenade in G (St. Martin-in-the-Fields version). Campbell recommends this one for those with Attention Deficit Disorder. It’s 17 minutes long. I took breaks for rethinking when the music ended and replayed the piece four times to the completion of a 12 x 16. In the end I was a human tuning-fork. I’ll tell you about my painting later.


“Stormy Sea at Night” 1849
oil painting
by Ivan Aivazovsky

Best regards,


PS: “How powerful is your magic sound.” (William Amadeus Mozart, The Magic Flute)

Esoterica: Not just Mozart. “Bach, Handel, Vivaldi and Corelli give a sense of order and create a mentally stimulating environment for study or work.” (Don Campbell) Haydn improves concentration, memory and spatial perception. He also says there’s a place for jazz, blues, salsa, rhumba, maranga, macarena and samba.

This letter was originally published as “The Mozart Effect” on January 8, 2002.


The Letters: Vol. 1 and 2, narrated by Dave Genn, are now available for download on Amazon, here. Proceeds of sales contribute to the production of The Painter’s Keys.

“What a delight this is! All this inventing, this producing, takes place in a pleasing, lively dream.” (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart)



  1. Wow, this is interesting. I know there is an important effect of the sounds on our body and mind, but I didn’t know it goes to this extend. I will try to listen to more Mozart when I paint and also I will make my father listen to it, since he is coping with some arm fracture pain.
    Thank you for the article.

  2. For 2 years I attended a weekly class where Mozart was played pretty well every day. The students jokingly said Called it The Mozart School of Art. A wonderful creative atmosphere. I grew up in the Midwest where music was not played at home and much that came into the car radio was unacceptable. The first time I heard Mozart I stopped and ask who it was. Mozart. I said he gets if and I began to listen to
    mostly classical music. Years later I read Mozart was one of two who wrote on the natural cadence of the human body.

  3. Amazing! I attend a weekly art group and the instructor plays classical music while we paint. Mozart? I didn’t know it was specific, but I will definitely turn on Mozart at home to paint by rather than leaving on the TV as background noise. Fascinating study.

  4. Thank you for this most interesting letter. I usually have quiet when I am painting or drawing;
    maybe it is time to reconsider.

  5. I play classical music on a regular basis as I paint in my studio and always in the classroom while teaching my 4 classes of children, 2 of adults and 2 of seniors in recreation art programs. Sometimes a teen will ask me to play something different and I decline, advising that what I am playing will help their creativity!

  6. Great information!
    Mozart has been my absolute favourite composer my whole life, since I was 18! When I can’t find the right music to work by, I go to Mozart, which always hits the right chord!

  7. Many years ago I attended a workshop Campbell gave for Arizona teachers. It was astounding, and I’m glad this column reminded me of those CDs sitting in a drawer. Time to get them out for my own use.

  8. I absolutely LOVE this entry. When I play classical music while I paint, I can “feel” that I am exactly where I need to be and doing exactly what I need to be doing. Switching over to Mozart’s 6th now. Joy

  9. Does anyone overdose on Mozart? Even though he wrote prolifically, I find myself turning off Mozart when it seems kind of same-old and tweedle-y.

    The heartbeat rhythms do remind me of baby rocking, though, and likely I was rocked to Mozart now and then when in utero , and out, as well. My fave for concentrated efforts is adagio music of the classic kind. Slow. Slow cadence. Passages done thoughtfully and with intent. It’s good for counteracting my tendency toward ADHD.

  10. Chris Everest on

    When I see the name “Mozart” I automatically think of the Dr Genevieve Lenard books by Estelle Ryan. A crime fiction series where the central character is a high functioning individual on the Autism spectrum. When she is “overloaded” by the horrors, pressures, emotions, and chaos of the life around her she uses the music of Mozart to find some sort of control in her (admittedly fictional) life. One of the other characters in the books terms this “Mozarting” – a verb meaning to find an element of control in an uncontrollable world. When my daughter died I turned also to Mozart. He seems to help.

  11. Music Heals is an organization that helps kids with learning challenges such as autism and ADHD. I had some children in my class with self regulation challenges and I was always amazed how they calmed down when they played the guitar!!

  12. Yes that might be nice, but I prefer listening to Martin Best and David Munrow for my own Muse and inspiration.

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