The children's music arena has been awash with classical recordings aimed at parents of newborns since a much-publicized late 1990s book "The Mozart Effect" claimed that infants' intelligence could be
The children's music arena has been awash with classical recordings aimed at parents of newborns since a much-publicized late 1990s book "The Mozart Effect" claimed that infants' intelligence could be increased through repeated exposure to classical music.
A new instrumental series for infants called A Playful Mind is standing out from the pack by changing a tried-and-true marketing pitch: It avoids using classical standards and makes no claim to improve intelligence. Instead, it uses original music and purports to engage and stimulate children.
Released by creator/composer/performer Thomas Schoenberger in conjunction with entrepreneur Robert Miller, the Playful Mind titles -- which have for the past year been only available in the San Francisco Bay area --are now going to mass-market retail.
Two titles, "Music for Infants Vol. 1" and "Music for Infants Vol. 2: Travel Music," will be released Oct. 21. Each 60-minute disc consists of one- to two-minute, double-piano Schoenberger originals.
Miller, who formerly worked for toy manufacturing giant Mattel, says Schoenberger's compositions speak directly to infants as if the composer is "a Dr. Doolittle for babies. Thomas writes to the natural attention span of an infant. The tone, tempos, composition and timing all speak to the infant aesthetic—he can communicate with them at a special, preverbal level."
Schoenberger, who writes seven or eight new pieces a day, says he will let other people decide why the music has that effect. "I don't pretend to be a neuroscientist, but my music's short duration, polyphony and melodic toning is probably very pleasing to a baby's ears," he says.
He points out that an infant is unable to understand a 30-minute Ravel piece and does not appreciate the discord featured in some of the classical pieces utilized in other classics-for-babies recordings.
The packaging of the discs -- which will carry a list price of $14.99 -- features a pop-out window into which a child's photograph can be inserted. Memphis-based wholesaler Select-O-Hits is leading A Playful Mind into such retail chains as Best Buy, Musicland, Target and Trans World. Miller and Schoenberger are also working directly with other retailers, including Zany Brainy/the Right Start.
More information on the discs can be found on the A Playful Mind Web site.