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Mozart Makes You Smarter? What About Gaelic Folk Tunes? Scottish Babies To Receive Free CD Of Classi
October 16, 2012
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We can just picture their local talk show, MacOprah, proclaiming to an audience full of newborns, 'You get a CD! You get a CD! Everybody gets a CD!'

That's because for the next year, until October 14, 2013, every baby born in Scotland is eligible to receive a free compact disc.

Called 'Astar' (which is Gaelic for journey), the CD - recorded by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and RSNO Junior Chorus - compiles classical music, nursery rhymes, and Scottish folk songs onto one album.

It's available at more than 200 Association of Registrars of Scotland locations, and according to the BBC, 'is expected to reach up to 60,000 families.'

In the announcement, Peter Oundjian, the musical director of the RSNO, describes the influence of classical music on his childhood, and hopes to impart the same sense of wonder and discovery of music on to the next generation. (The Maestro is also the music director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.)

The CD contains three sections - work, play, and nap, with eight tracks each - and features works by Mozart, Debussy, and Brahams, as well as tunes like 'Skye Boat Song' and 'Three Craws Sat Upon a Wa'.'

Early education experts preach that music has a strong effect on the cognitive development of children, and the RSNO website goes into great detail about the positive effects of introducing your child to music. It also contains more information for those parents wishing to extend the effort: there's a free e-newsletter, links to live events, and even suggestions for games to play with music in the background.

But the Mozart Effect debate, which survived for nearly two decades as a necessary part of a child's upbringing, was more or less debunked in the past few years.

Originally proposed by Dr. Alfred A. Tomatis in 1991 and popularized in two books by Don Campbell, the idea that Mozart's music, especially his 'Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major,' would result in smarter babies didn't have any solid scientific evidence to back it up.

But the media picked up on it, and it led to a generation of women transmitting music by Mozart and other masters into the womb by placing headphones on their stomach.

CDs marketed to the movement began showing up in stores. In 1998, Gov. Zell Miller of Georgia pledged money to distribute classical music CDs to parents of newborns, while Florida passed a law where daycares had to play classical music every day for at least one hour.

Hard to argue that exposure to great music that has survived for centuries as the prime examples of composition and structure is a bad thing. Music stimulates, from Bach to Bieber, and that holds true for any type of music, and varies according to each person's tastes - it's just not reserved to one specific composer or to infants.

At the very least, the free CD promotion is a nice piece of goodwill from the RSNO, which will likely reap some benefits as news spreads. It's also a clever way to cultivate a future audience - get 'em while they're young, right?

It's also an interesting example of classical music being used for good. A school in Britain was criticized a couple years ago for using the same type of music as punishment for students.

The school piped in Mozart and Ravel into detention classes and came under fire from music lovers who didn't want the classics to become synonymous with punishment.

It's also not the first time babies are getting something for nothing in an effort to drum up some publicity.

In 1993, the 'Greatest Show on Earth,' the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, celebrated its bicentennial by offering a free ticket to anyone born that year.

In the pre-Internet days, parents who mailed their name and the name and birthdate of their newborn to a P.O. box in Clifton, NJ, received a certificate good for one admission ticket to any Ringling Bros. show in any city in any year, with no expiration date.

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