Click HERE, please, download the mp3 and let it play. It's only two and a half minutes long. I would like you please to turn it down as low as possible, so it's just audible, and then ignore it.
Get on with reading.
Like the hum of a computer or a fluorescent light, I want it to be one of those sounds that you notice the lack of, once it's finished. I want you to watch where your head goes when it stops, not whilst it's running.
About six months ago this music (its one track off a set of 10 CDs) had such an amazing effect at one school that it was reported (in glowing terms) in the Times Educational Supplement. In between, it was submitted to examination by Worcester University's Department of Psychology, which was doing a full study of the effect different styles of music on students' ability to recall information. Carried out under controlled conditions, the study showed that any music was preferable to silence, in improving performance. However, the stuff you are listening to now (HERE it is again), in fact all of it's originator's compositions, when compared with classical or pop music, both with and without words, achieved the highest scores of all. Heart and pulse rates relaxed, but minds stayed alert and were able to concentrate more easily.
This music, played very quietly, invades the senses just sufficiently to coincide with and reinforce the brain's alpha rhythms.
'Being in Alpha' is a well known state of relaxed alertness, here's a separate article about that, if you hadn't heard of it, but to quote (emphasis my own):
...in deep sleep there are no Alpha brain waves, and if someone is very highly aroused as in fear or anger, again there are virtually no Alpha brain waves.This isn't meditation music, or chill out stuff - that abounds. This music is designed and tested and proven to lift you (or a bunch of students) out of sleepy, disinterested daydreaming, whilst also taking any who need it, down out of adrenalin fuelled stress and 'challenging behaviour'. Given the recent hoo-ha spotlighted by Newsweek, and the fact that the UK DfES has a whole department dedicated to improving behaviour in schools, I can't see how it can fail to be taken up and taken seriously.
Delta brain waves are seen only in the deepest stages of sleep (Stages 3 and 4).
Theta brain waves are seen in light sleep and drowsiness (sleep stages 1 and 2).
Alpha brain waves are seen in wakefulness where there is a relaxed and effortless alertness.
Beta brain waves are seen in highly stressful situations, and where there is difficult mental concentration and focus.
I'm sold - at least sold enough to want to know more - aren't you?
HERE's the new website, Calm Classrooms, which includes details of the University study and another link to the Times article, plus contact details
I don't know what a full set of CDs or mp3s for private use would cost, but I'd like to and am working on finding out. If you find out before me, tell them I sent you, and tell me what they said!
I'm going to copy ME Strauss now and re-list all the links.