Nurturing early childhood relationships through music
Music nurtures relationships with infants and children of all ages.
Many adults can recall their favorite lullaby or a rhyming song from their childhood, or remember a moment in time from hearing a particular song or genre of music. Music has the ability to make connections that last a lifetime. In our hurry-up, dot-com world, musical experiences provide a sense of community and belonging. That sense of belonging starts as early as infancy.
Music can introduce an infant to their heritage that goes beyond words or pictures. A spiritual lullaby, folk song or Native drumming can introduce a baby to their heritage. A parent or caregiver can connect with a baby by singing songs while doing everyday tasks like washing hands or doing chores. Some parents, whom claim to not be musically inclined, admit to singing songs they have made up specifically about their child. These musical traditions can develop special bonds that can turn into life-long memories.
Studies suggest that music and movement nourish the brain while affecting all areas of development such as strengthening motor skills, language, problem solving, spatial-temporal performance, literacy and listening. With our visually oriented culture, there are few opportunities for children to practice listening skills. Musical activities can help strengthen a child’s listening skills by providing opportunities for a child to anticipate, stop and listen. Adding musical movements while singing or listening to music with your baby may be awkward at first, but easy to perform. Some simple movements are as follows:
- Pat and tap - gently pat your baby on the legs or back and avoid tapping the head
- Finger plays – touch or massage your baby’s fingers or toes one at a time
- Tickles – gently tickle your baby’s palm, leg, foot, or tummy
- Massage and stretch – gently rub your babies tummy, back, arms and legs
- Rocking – gently hold your baby close while rocking back and forth in chair
There are music oriented baby groups for parents and children to attend in many communities. If a group is not located in your community, invite a few friends and their children and host one yourself. Use any music you like but remember that it shouldn’t be too fast, loud or too busy. Some suggested Mozart’s music creates a perfect balance between music’s charging effect and a sense of calmness and well-being:
- Mozart, “Eine kleine Nachtmusik” (“A Little Night Music”)
- Mozart, Clarinet Concerto, K.622, Clarinet Quintet, K.581
Research shows that music develops critical thinking, emotional well-being, and provides opportunities to practice social skills. The magic of music is that it speaks to all children regardless of where they are at developmentally. Use music to nurture your relationship with the children and the adults in your life.