US babes roll over to Beethoven beat

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The Independent Online
THE MUSIC that rocks the cradle in America these days is not "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" or even lullabies sung by mummy. Instead, thanks to schemes across the land to distribute free classical music compact discs to the mothers of all newborn babies, it is the overtures and airs of Mozart, Bach and Beethoven.

The first with the idea was the former Governor of Georgia Zell Miller. She pushed through legislation in 1997 ensuring the distribution of CDs to new mums across the state in response to research suggesting that playing classical music to infants helps brain cell development - the so-called Mozart Effect. The CD, released by Sony Music, is called Build Your Babies Brain through the Power of Music.

The Georgia programme is already in its second year. And now others around the country, far from lampooning Miller as an eccentric, are following suit. Indeed, a whole new generation of Americans will be addicted - even conditioned - to listening to classical music. Some have already dubbed them the "Beethoven Babies".

Last year, Florida passed a Beethoven Babies Bill, requiring all state- run infant care facilities to play at least one symphony to their wards every day. Tennessee is launching a scheme whereby every new mother will receive a certificate for another all-classical baby tape, Listen, Learn, and Grow. A similar programme for classical CD distribution has also been launched in Colorado.

It may not be long before every American baby will be jiggling to Air on a G String and Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.