Keeping the Songs Alive!

More Face to Face Communication: Playing with your Baby leads to Bonding, Language Development and Musical Intelligence.

Here’s a ball for Baby, Big and Soft and Round….

Here’s the Baby’s hammer, see how he can pound…

In distant memories, I hear the voice of a white-haired woman singing to my children.  Reaching back even further, I hear that same voice, unshaken by age, singing the song to me, fingertips poised to create Baby’s beloved “ball.” I mimic my grandmother’s hand movements and sing along.

Here’s the Baby’s trumpet, toot-too-toot-too-too,

Here’s the way the Baby, plays a Peak-a- Boo!                                                                    

Whenever there was a baby on her lap, you could hear Grandma Catherine singing. In her 90s, her voice was shaky, but little ones were still rapt with her song.

Is it any wonder that of the hundreds of children’s songs I know, this
one’s my favorite?

If you read my column, you know how strongly I feel about the importance of words, songs and games in bonding and child development. What we do with our babies is so important!

When we look into our little one's eyes, from birth, we establish a bond that helps prepare them for future relational bonding. When we talk in a language they can understand (babbling and “parentese”), we engage in foundational activities that lay the groundwork for social interaction, relational bonding, linguistic intelligence, musical skills and other development. 

Organizing the brain and helping it to “hard-wire” in a healthy way, from birth, is much easier than trying to rewire it later (which often proves impossible).

One hundred years ago, families lived in close proximity to one another and formed a family community.  Grandparents helped raise their grandbabies and passed down an aural tradition filled with playful songs and games.

From the early 1980s to the mid-90s, John Feierabend, an early
childhood researcher and professor at The Hartt School in Hartford, CT, conducted interviews with many senior citizens, asking them to recall a song, rhyme or game that could be played with a baby on their lap.  Interviewees over the age of 80 could offer a very diverse repertoire.  Those in the 60-80 age group had a smaller repertoire. Those between 40 and 60 recalled very little, and parents under 40 knew virtually no lap games for babies.

Now, 15 years after the research, most in Feierabend’s oldest group are gone from this earth, along with many of the songs they knew. 

Do we really want such a rich repertoire to pass away? Traditional folk
song and game are the best form of music we can provide in early childhood. Songs that were born out of our language reflect the melodic and rhythmic contour of our spoken language and therefore subconsciously help children to understand the nuances of our language.       

People living today have grown up with some form of musical technology (records, radio, CDs, television, iPods). These are wonderful additions to our world, but the danger is that now, instead of making music, the vast majority in our culture merely consumer it. 

As a culture, we parents no longer have a repertoire of songs and games “in our back pocket” that we sing — live — with our children. What does this mean for little ones? 

Children are missing out on live music-making, which stimulates the brain in a way nothing else can. Feierabend’s research supports that children who are sung to (live, a cappella or with the simple accompaniment of one instruments) will sing more tunefully, earlier than those who are exposed to recorded, “over-accompanied” music.   

Playing with babies, engaging in developmentally appropriate activities
like wiggles, tickles, taps and bounces, helps our little ones to make sense of the people and the world around them as their brains are developing.

This week our videos feature Heather Cooper with her baby, Megan, 7 months.  Heather is a music teacher at Canton Country Day and her husband, Britt, is the choral director at .  You don't have to be a music teacher, though, to enjoy play-time activities with your baby.  Your little one doesn't care how you sing, just THAT you sing.  

Want to build your repertoire of songs for babies and toddlers? Find out more about music classes for little ones in the North Canton area.



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