April 26, 2005

The Mozart Effect

Here's an interesting little article from the Stanford Report about the so-called Mozart Effect. It's not so much about the theory itself - which was never substantiated after it burst into the popular conscience in the early 90's and has since been pretty much discredited. Rather, it examines some possible reasons why the ME continues to grow in popularity, tying the possible explanation back to a general American anxiety about education.

The article speaks of a study of the spread of ME interest comparing press coverage of the ME with levels of educational problems on a state by state basis to see if there is any corrolation. It strikes me that another way to study the phenomenon is to track the sales of Baby Einstein products, particularly the Baby Mozart tape and assorted accessories. Julie Clark, who started the business in her garage, has made out like a bandit on this stuff - and I would guess that her products are as popular in Manhattan as they are in the Georgia backwoods, if not more so.

I confess that we have a pretty goodish assortment of Baby Einstein tapes and CD's ourselves, although it has nothing to do with trying to increase the chances of a Llama-ette getting into Harvard Med School. Instead, we see them simply as a pleasant way to start giving the gels some exposure to the music. And indeed, they are beginning to be able to pick out the differences between, for example, Vivaldi and Bach. And every now and again, I get a request to hear the Real Thing.

I did run across one problem with Baby Mozart a while back. The tape contains performances of about half a dozen Mozart piano sonatas, edited for kiddy consumption. I happen to play all of these pieces myself, and at one point there was a considerable amount of indignation - particularly from my eldest - when my performance of the original did not comport with what she was used to from the video. But I'm happy to say that we worked it all out. And the alla Turca from the A-major sonata (K. 311, I think) remains a dance favorite at the Butcher's House.

Yips! to Terry Teachout.

Posted by Robert at April 26, 2005 09:47 AM

Forget it, Robert. Terry's moved on. Discarded you like yesterday's newspaper. You've got to get over it, man. You're better than that.

Posted by: The Colossus at April 26, 2005 10:37 AM

I'm not stalking him. We just like to go to....the same places.

Posted by: Robert the LB at April 26, 2005 10:43 AM
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