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Has no-one told the Scots that Mozart’s dead?

The so-called Mozart Effect, by which babies could be made cleverer in the womb and the cradle by hearing doses of Amadeus, has been widely discredited. Behavioral scientists now laugh at the notion that infant abilities can be affected by one composer and no other.

In Scotland, however, old myths die hard. It is reported that every Scottish babe born in the next year will receive a free CD with dollops of Mozart, as well as Scottish songs and snippets of Debussy and Tchaikovsky. The disc has been recorded by the national orchestra and its conductor Peter Oundjian. It is ‘supported by Creative Scotland’s First in a Lifetime programme’.

The nanny state is alive and well and living north of the border.

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  1. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. I’m guessing the proportion of newborns who’ve parents with pianos is relatively small. It’s not an intrinsically bad idea – it’s just twee.

  2. I personally think its a pretty good idea. The economy of scale means that the discs probably didn’t cost a vast amount to produce (though the orchestral recordings would of been costly, please don’t berate me- I know this project isn’t cheap but I won’t work out a complete budget here on my device!)
    The fact people are being given a ‘reason’ (debate to ensue) to listen to classical music is surely not a bad thing? Perhaps they are paving the way for more interest in music amount early years in preparation for more live experiences too?
    I really rate creative scotland as an organisation (based on my admittedly limited knowledge) and am glad they seem to be getting some good press!

  3. Why discredit something that isn’t worth discrediting?

  4. I’m not sure of the effect of Mozart (or other good music) on babies or adults, but I do know that bad music does psychic, intellectual and even physical harm. Sitting in the local coffee shop listening to what amounts to a mixture of vomiting and drowning for half an hour, and I walk out physically nauseated. Why do I do it, do you ask? It’s the only coffee shop in town.

  5. For what it’s worth, my now 12-year-old has a fairly good understanding and appreciation of “classical” music, due in no small part to the CDs given to us when she was a newborn as well as many musical toys featuring melodies by Vivaldi, Mozart, J. Strauss, etc. At about the age of three she came down from her bedroom and watched Bergman’s Magic Flute in its entirety (w/o English subtitles of course) without saying a word or moving an inch. In a word, she was captivated by the music.

    She has taken a liking to Amadeus–although she is well aware of the fiction. I also catch her repeatedly watching a version of Don Giovanni I have on dvd. Precocious? I’m not sure of that, but a big part of it has been the exposure to great music. I am a conductor and she has been attending concerts since she was 8-days old, so that’s more than a fair number of performances. At a recent event where she had to sit by herself through an entire program, she sat very attentively and proudly applauded her favorite conductor.

    And yes, she knows more of contemporary popular music than I do, but still has Sinatra on her iPod. I can’t ask for much more.

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