Susie Tallman had been singing and performing professionally for many years when she discovered her current business calling while at a friend’s baby shower. She was holding two babies for a picture opportunity and the babies were growing fussy. When their fussiness escalated to all-out crying, Susie began to sing to them and as if on cue, both babies quietly turned to watch and listen. The other party attendants (particularly the babies’ mothers) were astounded. “You should record a CD for babies,” they all agreed. Susie did exactly that and Rock Me Baby Records was born.
Since beginning Rock Me Baby Records (8 children’s music CDs, 1 DVD, 1 app and three children of her own later), Susie has given much attention to the impact music has on children. The benefits vary from simple and pure enjoyment to the more complex “Mozart Effect” that music appears to have on intelligence and learning. Among the many rewards that music offers children, there are four that have special meaning to Susie and Rock Me Baby Records:
Music helps build self-esteem and self confidenceMusic and singing is a non-competitive activity that can be done alone or in groups and in which everyone can participate. This gives children an activity that can grow their self-esteem and self confidence.
Music promotes communication, community, and culture through participationMusic and singing allows an opportunity to bond with children; giving you a repertoire of songs and musical activities that you and your baby, toddler and/or young child can share. Entire families can participate and that music can become the soundtrack of your child’s life.
Music engages all parts of the brain… and even the bodyMusic participation encourages creativity and coordination, while listening requires attention and analysis. With music, children begin to learn language, counting, reading, and memorization. Engaging in musical movement – rocking, bouncing, dancing and otherwise moving to the music – gets children moving.
Music and singing just makes you feel good! Music has the power to calm and heal, and be fun and joyful.
Music has the power to calm and heal the youngest of babies. For example, music has worked in therapies to help premature babies in their incubators, lowering heart rate and blood pressure and reducing the signs of distress they exhibit. Babies appear to love the patterns and rhythms of songs. Even the youngest babies can recognize specific melodies once they’ve heard them. As babies grow up, setting words to music actually helps the brain learn them more quickly and retain them for longer. That’s why as adults we remember the lyrics of songs we sang as young children, even if we haven’t heard the songs in years.
There are myriad studies available to support more formal theories that music has great benefits for children. Many parents are inspired by the “Mozart Effect” which touts the observation that study participants improve spatial temporal efficiency after listening to one of Mozart’s sonatas. Spatial-temporal agility is related to mathematical ability and aptitude. Apparently, listening to the complex musical structure of classical music “turns on” the spatial pathways of the brain, priming it to solve spatial and relational problems more efficiently. In other words, music primes the brain to learn. At a more basic level, listening to music can have positive effects on our moods that simply make learning easier.
What Can You Do as a Parent or Caregiver?
Play music for your baby.
Sing to your baby and with your toddler.
Offer your children a wide repertoire of music and encourage them to listen.
Let your children choose their favorites, but continue to introduce new and different genres and performers.
Find musical opportunities in daily activities:
Clean-up songs make chores easier, even fun.
Teeth brushing, bath taking, etc. are more fun when set to song.
Listen to music in the car.
Play music during playtime to set the mood.
Play musical games.
Find formal classes, groups, etc. in which your child can participate.
Attend concerts, symphonies, local performances or just watch musicians. Point them out to your children.
Turn up the radio and dance!
Show them your own love of music every day.