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Beethoven for babies

 Gov. Zell Miller, an avid country music buff, wants all Georgia newborns to have the chance to listen to soothing classical music. His hope is to boost baby brain power.

Miller asked the Legislature on Tuesday to spend $105,000 in tax dollars to pay for CDs or cassettes of hand-picked classical music. The goal would be to give them to all of Georgia's new parents - some 100,000 a year. 

To soothe any doubters, Miller then played the lawmakers a few minutes of Beethoven's ``Ode to Joy.'' 

``Now don't you feel smarter already? Smart enough to vote for this budget item, I hope,'' Miller said. 

House Speaker Tom Murphy, a cigar-chewing great-grandfather who calls square dances for fun, shook his head at the notion but said he'd probably go along with it.

``I'd never heard about that Beethoven stuff. I didn't know a thing about that,'' Murphy said. ``I took music appreciation at North Georgia College and that might be what's wrong with me.''

Miller, who will return to the classroom as a college professor when his term ends this year, said he got the idea from a seminar on early childhood education touting the benefits of music in making babies smarter. 

He plans to tap Atlanta Symphony conductor Yoel Levi to help come up with the songs for the state-funded CD. ``Ode to Joy'' will be among them.

 Copyright 1997 The Associated Press.

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