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Legislature mandating classical music for tots

Move over Barney, and make way for Beethoven.

The Legislature has passed a bill requiring classical music in all state-funded child care and educational programs. Mandating Mozart at day care, lawmakers hope, will stimulate brain development.

"I hadn't paid much attention to it, because I thought it was a joke," said Mary Tingiris of Tampa, president of the Florida Family Child Care Home Association. "I believe in classical music, I use classical music, but how do you mandate it?"

The bill, sponsored in the Senate by Bill Turner, D-Miami Shores, and the House by Les Miller, D-Tampa, drew snickers at committee meetings all legislative session. But it sailed through the House with no discussion Tuesday and now awaits the governor's signature.

Studies have linked classical music to enhanced brain development among infants and toddlers, and state leaders are putting increasing emphasis on "readiness" or preparing young children for school. The "Beethoven's Babies" bill requires child care facilities receiving state funding to spend 30 minutes a day reading to children up to age 5 and playing classical music to them every day.

Turner, a former Dade County School Board member with a master's degree in education, is passionate on the subject of brain development and classical music, and picky about what sort of music he prefers for kids. Though the bill doesn't spell it out, Turner stresses that Mozart, Bach and Beethoven are great for developing synapses. But baroque composers tend to put kids to sleep, he says.

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