June 28, 2005
Studying with Music?
Mozart vs. Vivaldi
While in Las Vegas for the LSAC Academic Support conference, Daniel Dropko (Academic Excellence Program Manager at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law) and I briefly discussed the idea of recommending that students listen to classical (or other) music while studying. Daniel mentioned the "Lozanov" approach and "suggestopedia" - neither of which were at all familiar to me ... so I asked him to send me information.
With his permission, I have reproduced Daniel's email for y'all below.
----- Original Message -----
From: Daniel Dropko
Sent: Wed Jun 15 12:15:38 EDT 2005
To: Dennis Tonsing
Subject: Studying while listening to Mozart
The listening/study experience I referred to in our hallway conversation is from a language learning technique called suggestopedia. It was developed in Bulgaria by Georgi Lozanov, and although I have never actually tried or taught the system, it has a devoted following.
The actual listening part is a component of a more complete lesson plan ... in which students sit in comfortable recliner chairs with headphones and listen to a dialogue that they have previously encountered which is read against a background of baroque music. The underlying theory is that it is not the music itself, but the rhythmic pulse of approximately 60 beats per minute that produces alpha waves in the brain, which lead to a state of relaxation and reflection that aids in the retention of information. Indeed, the singular achievement of suggestopedia is the ability of students to memorize and accurately reproduce very long dialogues. Lozanov calls this component of the lessons "the concert".
For whatever reason, the slow movements of early 18th century baroque concertos all seem to proceed at the 60 beat-per-minute pace. (The concertos typically have three movements, the slow one being the one in the middle.) Vivaldi is the composer of choice, since he wrote so many concertos and recordings are easy to find. Others, however, should work (Corelli, for example).
Other approaches similar to Lozanov's are usually grouped under the term "Superlearning", or its American derivative, SALT. I am less familiar with these theories, but even more than Lozanov's work they tiptoe perilously close to New Age BS, and I am suspicious. Lozanov's work, however, supposedly has a solid research base, though I have not studied it extensively and would probably never have even thought of it until you mentioned studying to Mozart. (By the way, there is also apparently a "study to Mozart" school out there who claims that he, not the baroque composers, is the key.) ... Daniel
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