I don’t often have guest posts on my blog, however I’ve made an exception once again for Lauren aka. Musical Mum as I loved her post idea. The connections that babies make with music amazes me. I often sang Twinkle Twinkle Little Star when I was pregnant with Autumn, and once she was born, she seemed to settle better to that song than others. My husband is a big fan of the American drama series, Bones. As soon as Autumn hears the theme tune, she is distracted from whatever she’s doing and looks towards the source of the sound.
Even in my own life, I know the strong connections that I’ve made to music throughout my life. The power of music is something that truly fascinates me. Anyway, over to Lauren…
Hi, my name is Lauren Elliott. I am a music teacher in Solihull and mum to 10-month-old J. Since J’s birth I have discovered more and more about the wonderful effect that music can have on young children, and I have set up a website to help parents explore this with their own children: www.musicalmum.com. Music education can begin even before your baby is born, and it is definitely something that can be started from home! I am on a mission to make music education accessible to everyone, and to show parents that it can have profound effects on their children.
Have you ever heard a song that has instantly taken you back to another time? That evokes memories so strong, you feel as though you are in a different place? That stays with you all day, as you get lost in time gone by? Of course you have – that’s the power that music has! More so than language, pictures, or smells, listening to music can stir so many emotions.
If you think back through your life, you will find that all of your big occasions were accompanied by music: your wedding day, your 18th birthday, your school prom, your first boyfriend. But if you think even harder, you will find that all of the little occasions also had a musical soundtrack. There will be music that reminds you of summer nights when you were 6, of visiting your grandparents when you were 10, and of sleepovers with your best friend when you were 15. Without even realising, you have a musical soundtrack to your own life, which has the power to evoke the strongest memories whenever you hear snippets of it.
It’s really funny what we remember. Memories get hazy over time, and we only remember snapshots of things that happened when we were little. As your baby grows, you have no way of knowing which parts of their lives will be forgotten, and which parts they will remember forever. They may forget their 8th birthday party, but always remember that blue spade that you once took to Margate. The music that they hear will stay with them always. If you fill your house with music, they will always have a bank of songs that will remind them of childhood. If you create playlists for their birthday parties, they will have a collection of music that stirs happy emotions. And if you sing and dance you will be creating a musical soundtrack that is filled with joy and happiness.
Of course, music accompanies the saddest events of our lives as well. Funerals, break-ups, loss – people turn to music for comfort as well as celebration. This is all part of your soundtrack. The tears that you cry make you stronger, the fear that you feel makes you braver, and the music that helps you through is all the more special. However much you may try to protect them, your little one will experience some pain in their life – and music is one of the things that will help them through. They will find songs that they can relate to, that explain how they are feeling, and that will become a part of their tapestry.
Here are some ideas to think about when considering the musical soundtrack to your child’s early life:
- Even before your baby is born, they can hear! From about 16 weeks of pregnancy, your baby’s ears are developing, and it is their strongest sense when they are born. Select a playlist of pieces to play to your unborn baby regularly. Play them out loud, so you can hear them too, and allow the endorphins to rush to your womb as you relax. Your baby will learn to recognise these pieces, and they they will help to relax and reassure them after they have entered our big and scary world.
- Play music when you get up in the morning, while you are eating your breakfast, and when you are in the car. Play it while your baby is playing, while they are in the bath, and when you are in the garden. Background music has been shown to help the brain make connections involved in learning, and singing along has proven benefits in language development.
- Every 6 months or so, write your baby a love letter. Write down how you feel about them, why you love them so much, and what makes you proud. Tell them the things that you have enjoyed doing together, the cute little things that they do, and if you have any worries about them. Write down the toys they have played with, the books you have read together, and the music you have listened to. These are all the things that will become hazy as time passes. But keeping a note of the music you have enjoyed will help to keep the memories fresh and clear!
For more ideas about how to include music in your child’s life, follow my 10-step plan to creating a happy and musical home: http://musicalmum.com/10-steps-musical-home