Kids Love Music By Jennifer Lopez The importance of music in the learning process has been recognized for a long time. Many children can sing every word of the Alphabet Song before they can identify a single letter. Amazingly, when your baby is developing in the womb, the ear is actually the first sensory organ to develop brain connections. In her article “Benefits of Music for Infants,” Angela England explains, “When a baby is born he is already able to recognize familiar tunes and songs and distinguish between the voice of his parents and any other voice. Babies show a marked preference for a song sung by their own mother or father than a song sung on tape or CD. “ Studies done at Neonatal Intensive Care Units also show that certain types of music, in particular classical music, can lower blood pressure and stress hormones in young infants. How do babies and children respond to music? Birth to Six Months: Baby is recognizing sound. Babies respond to music with full body movements and wiggles. They turn their heads towards sounds that catch their attention and cry in response to unpleasant sounds. Since babies show a preference for songs sung by familiar voices, it is better for parents to rock and sing to their babies instead of playing a CD with a stranger’s voice singing lullabies. Infants also respond well to many instrumental pieces, but choose carefully, even some classical music can be stressful to a baby, while harsh rock music actually weakens brain connections in young infants. Six Months to One Year: Baby is starting to understand how to produce sound. Babies begin to grasp and manipulate objects. This means a baby can shake a rattle and begins to understand that the shaking makes a sound. Parents can demonstrate and encourage their babies to clap their hands in response to music. At around a year old a baby can start to bang on pots and pans or pound on a key board…you make want some comfortable earplugs! One year to two: Children begin to understand rhythm. You can encourage your child to move to the beat of different songs, this helps him to develop a sense of rhythm and order, and increase motor skills. Pick your child up and “dance” with him so he can feel the rhythm of your movements. Let your child accompany songs with rattles and tambourines. Expose your child to different types of music, for example, play jazz at home, listen to country in the car, play some classical during dinner. Three, four, and five year olds: Through rhythm, children can start learning basic math concepts. Parents As Teachers National Center encourages, “show your child how to clap out the rhythm of his name, and point out that he is matching his claps to the syllables in his name. Then try clapping to the names of family members and friends. Ask which names have more claps or fewer claps. The ideas of some, more than, and less than, are important in learning math.” According to scientists, if you are interested in your child learning an instrument, the best time to begin formal music lessons is between the ages of 3 and 10. Additional benefits of exposing your child to music: 1. It aids the acquisition of early language and motor skills. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. It strengthens the emotional bond between the two of you. It can increase listening skills, memory and concentration. It can accelerate learning in math and reading. It develops imagination, invention, creative thinking, and communication skills. It teaches such values as self-discipline, perseverance and responsibility. Music also creates a positive atmosphere, try turning off the TV and putting on some music. Many times children don’t really care about watching TV, they just want to hear sound in the background while they play. Music suggestions for babies: Vivaldi Flute Concerto-The Four Seasons Bach-Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring Beethoven-Piano Concerto 5 (The Emperor Concerto), 2nd Movement Brahms-Symphony No. 3, 2nd Movement Haydn-Cello Concerto, 2nd Movement Tchaikovsky-Symphony No. 6, 2nd Movement For children: Boston Pops, Arthur Fiedler-Classics for Children Camille Saint-Saens-Carnival of the Animals Prokofiev-Peter and the Wolf Tchaikovsky-The Nutcracker Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with Full Chorus-Nursery Rhymes Classical Kids Series-Mozart’s Magnificent Voyage Introduction to the Classics series If you would be interested in more information or a visit from Parents As Teachers, please call at 3564245. Information taken from “Benefits of Music for Infants: How Music Helps Newborn Babies Brain and Emotional Development,” by Angela England, “The sound of music-it’s not just entertainment,” from Parents as Teachers National Center, Inc., and “Ready for Music?” by Jennifer L. Nelson, Parent & Child Magazine.