Emerging research continues to reinforce that music is great for our little ones growing brains and bodies. But is supporting your child’s development best achieved by ensuring they listen to classical music regularly or by buying an expensive baby music DVD? Neither actually!
Whilst exposing your child to a wide range of music and musical experiences at every age is fantastic, to really reap the positive benefits music offers your child’s development – it’s all about engagement. Engagement with you. Actively experiencing and making music with your little one not only adds fun to your day, but has a host of other benefits for both of you. Over the next few months I’ll be sharing some suggestions on musical activities you might like to incorporate into your day, and bringing together some of the research that informs why I so strongly advocate “music and fun from day one”.
LULLABIES -not rocket science, but perhaps “rocking” science? The simple act of holding and gently rocking your child along to a lullaby is not only calming for an unsettled babe, but often equally so for a frazzled parent or caregiver. There is a reason these slow, repetitive rhythmic songs exist in every civilization and oral tradition – babies respond to them and the reassuring comfort they offer. Your voice is one of the very first things your baby recognizes pre and post birth and the act of singing to your child is an extremely valuable bonding activity. Additionally, the rhythmic movement involved in rocking stimulates their vestibular system and assists in the development of proprioception (awareness of one’s body in space). But lullabies aren’t just for bubs – older children love them too! They’re a great excuse for a cuddle with Mr or Miss Growing-Up-So-Fast and a fantastic way to assist in internalising and developing a solid sense of beat.
When discussing the benefits of lullabies with parents, the most common phrases I hear are variations on “but I hate my voice / I’m tone deaf / I don’t know what to sing”. If you can speak, you can sing – and more importantly, your baby LOVES your voice and the one on one attention of a solo show just for them. Tuning, vocal quality and content are not high on their agenda!
OK, so your version of “Rock a bye baby” might not take you through to the final round of X Factor anytime soon. You’re pretty sure you usually get the words wrong, and that the tune is a bit dodgy. Don’t stress – those aren’t the important bits! Even if you chose to hum the Neighbours theme tune to your little one whilst rocking – you’d still be providing a fantastically personal and engaging musical experience…and trust me they’ll always want an encore.
Why not take advantage of the most receptive and appreciative audience in the world whilst you can…sing a lullaby to your little one tonight!
We use some of the following lullabies in our weekly music classes:
- Rock a bye baby
- All the pretty little horses
- Brahms’ Lullabye
- Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
But we’d love to hear what songs work as lullabies for you – comment below to share your all time favourite with other parents!
NURSERY RHYMES – they’re silly and often don’t make a lot of sense, but they offer the regular rhythm, rhyme and repetition that kids love and thrive on. Even prior to birth children are learning to recognise repeated patterns and the rhythms of speech and song. Extensive research supports that exposure to speech rhymes, fingerplays and nursery rhymes help your little ones language and speech development, let them practice their auditory memory skills, help them exercise their imagination, and the associated actions contribute to the development and refinement of fine and large motor skills. Best of all – they’re fun!
MOVING AND DANCING – Go on …shake your tail feather! Moving and dancing to music is a natural response and a great way to exercise coordination and motor skills for your little one. It helps reinforce a child’s internal sense of beat and there is a large correlation between motor development, physical coordination and brain development. Share your favourite tunes with your kids – practice flowing movements, fast jagged movements…anything that suits you, your mood and the music. Have fun!