Sharing music with your baby — what’s not to like? It’s a great way to bond one-on-one, to allow them to experience something that you love, and to get them excited for something and calm them back down afterwards! But there’s even MORE to love about music when you take a closer look at some of the basic neuroscience going on in your baby’s brain while you’re undertaking this activity together.
Studies show that music is one of the only activities that humans engage in that creates “whole-brain activation”. Basically, because there are so many different aspects to music — rhythm, tonality, timbre, and lyrics — we are using all the different parts of our brain to process it: both hemispheres, the corpus collosum connecting them, our emotional centres, computation centres, motor functions… everything! We know that babies are born with a huge amount of neurons that we need to connect and strengthen, and music is a fun way to engage their whole brains and make those synaptic connections happen!
Listening to and making music is like exercise for the whole brain, but the auditory, visual, and motor centres are especially affected. These centres are also so important for language development and other literacy and numeracy skills, so music helps us with a lot of the areas that people worry about when it comes to school-readiness – reading, writing, speaking, and math.
Listening, Moving, Learning
Music can be relaxing or exciting, it can be social or independent, new or primal; it’s something that just comes very naturally to humans. Listening to music is important. But so is moving to it, and so is learning to play it. If music education classes or instruments seem a bit daunting at the moment, try starting with your own first and best instruments – your voices. Spend time singing and moving to music with your child every day to start accessing the benefits of music! It doesn’t matter if you think you’re tone-deaf or can’t carry a tune… your baby loves your voice more than any other voice and needs to hear you using it confidently and even experimentally so they can learn to do the same. And moving to music doesn’t have to be dancing! Try rocking, bouncing, tapping, and clapping at different speeds (superfast or sssuuuuppppeeerrr ssslllooowww), different levels (up as high as you can reach, or down low to the ground) and different flows (hard or angular movements or soft and fluid ones) to help your child experience the music and spaces around them!
Have you been doing this for a while? Start thinking about registering in a music class! Rhythm classes and instrumental exploration are a perfect way to take advantage of all the learning that happens in the early years of our lives and to help set our children up for future success!
The Mozart Effect refers to a set of studies that was actually looking into one very specific thing – whether or not listening to Mozart’s Sonata improved spatial awareness. In more recent years people have interpreted “The Mozart Effect” to mean that playing classical music to babies in-utero will boost their IQ. That is not an accurate idea. However – because our auditory sense develops very early on (within the first twenty weeks of life!) we can hear the rhythms of the body like our heartbeats and breathing before birth, which means that music actually IS very beneficial to children in the womb. They can hear their parents singing, and when mom is listening to a song that relaxes her, baby’s heartbeat slows down too. When mom gets excited, baby does too. And when mom is stressed, baby’s heart-rate speeds right up, so it’s important to listen to music that YOU like, and not music that might freak you out. Classical music is not for everyone. Rap is not for everyone. Pop and Rock are not for everyone. But MUSIC is. So share it every day with your little one, and just wait and see what happens.
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