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Classical 101

Classical 101 Delights Babies in Mansfield Day Care Center


This story was first published in the November 2013 issue of WOSU Public Media's AirFare magazine. To receive a one-year subscription to AirFare, along with other great benefits, become a member of WOSU. They bounce to Beethoven, gurgle to Gershwin and suck their toes to strains of Strauss. They're Classical 101’s tiniest listeners, babies who spend their days enjoying our great music on WOSV 91-7 FM in the Infant Room at St. Peter's Child Care Center in Mansfield. The babies have Infant Room attendant Emmah Roepke to thank for the musical ambience. A student in early childhood development at North Central State College and a self-described music "fanatic," Roepke says her mother played classical music for her when she was a baby. Now Roepke is sharing her passion for music to the wee ones at St. Peter's. And they’re all picking up on it. Fourteen-month-old Abbigail, for instance, already has a penchant for piano music. Fourteen-month-old Abbigail listens to Classical 101 at her child care center. Photo: Amy Milbourne/WOSU Public Media
I've noticed that she seems to be more content in the room when there are piano pieces playing, instead of, like, a whole orchestra," Roepke said. "It's just interesting seeing the babies respond to instrumental music, and that's what I like about it. I'm a firm believer that classical music helps brain development at a young age." As much as Roepke's pint-sized charges like the music on Classical 101, they also respond to the voices of Classical 101's hosts. "When there are people talking on the radio, it's almost like they like to interact with them," Roepke said. "Usually when the gentlemen are on, (the babies are) awake and playing, and when the men announce that's when they seem to look at the radio and wonder where that second voice is coming from." And yours truly? Roepke says the voice of Classical 101's only female announcer helps the babies settle in for their midday naps. "It's definitely a maternal voice, and I think that's something they pick up on even when they're sleeping and you're on the radio," Roepke said. Of course, the music works for nap time, too, when the great composers carry the babies along with the center's older children to the Land of Nod. As she works toward her degree, Roepke listens to classical music to help her study. And based on personal experience, she's betting that someday the little ones at St. Peter's will grow up to be big classical music lovers like her. "If you play a certain kind of music when a child is younger, they could certainly grow up to be a fanatic of it," Roepke said. "I think that's what happened to me."