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December 17, 2002

The mysterious "Schoenberger effect" Fact or fiction?

Thomas Schoenberger is making a name for himself among parents across America. They swear something in this composer's music both animates and soothes their babies. Is this the next evolution in the "Mozart Effect" craze?

Parents these days have their hands filled with new products that claim to make your baby more intelligent, less fussy and better behaved. Back in 1993, U.C. Irvine professor Gordan Shaw started the trend when both He and Dr. Helen Raucher coined the term "Mozart Effect" to describe the powerful effect certian classical music has in neural development of infants and babies.Since then , "Mozart Effect" products have glutted the baby market, with most of these products having no connection with the actual research done by Raucher and Shaw.The study bases it findings on a double piano sonata (K448) composed by W.A.Mozart himself in the 1780's. So it would stand to reason that piano based music composed in a rococco style would naturally mimic those results lauded by researchers. Out of the dozens of "Mozart Effect" musical CD's being marketed, we found only one who not only incorporated the hard scientific data done in the "Mozart Effect" studies,but has attracted a fair amount of parents who report surprisingly effective responses for their babies. The Cd is called The Ultimate Baby Cd and it's composer Thomas Schoenberger has just been signed to a marketing deal that will bring his music to national attention.Does this mean we will start being bombarded with "Schoenberger effect" campaigns? In all likelyhood.. yes. But that is not neccesarily a bad thing. By all accounts, the Cd has become a underground best seller largely through word of mouth, which lends credibility to the "Schoenberger Effect" phenomenon.After all, if mother's swear by it's effects on their own children, there must be some type of reaction present. I listened to the Cd several times and was impressed with the "Bach meets Mozart" quality of the pieces. It's obvious that Schoenberger has tremendous talent as a melodic composer. It' also clear that something is going on with this music that separates it from the rest of the Mozart Effect products. This Cd appears to have some effect on babies. What exactly that effect is remains to be diagnosed by further scientific studies.Still, I applaud Schoenberger's CD and his pioneering approach to writing music for the smallest members of our species.I also look forward to other composers entering the fascinating world of behavioral music products. Perhaps we can get Dr.'s Shaw and Raucher back from their sabbatical to probe the talented Mr. Schoenberger's mysterious music.
Frank Shaw is a free lance columist living in Los Angeles.
e-mail him at FShawstories@aol.com

 


 


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Frank Shaw
Frank Shaw Media
http://www.fsmedia.com/
310-246-0394

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