Though your baby might not be able to shout, “I wanna rock,” she is doubtless thinking it. I mean, you’ve been jamming out to Man or Astro-man? for the last half hour while doing the dishes, and that poor child has been bouncing her butt off in that ridiculous bouncy seat. And long before this flesh-and-blood mini-you popped into the world, she was digging your sounds deep inside your belly.
Sure, you played “Baby Mozart” with every intention for your child to exit your body with an advanced intellect and an appreciation for the finer things, but the kid was also checking out Dad’s Deftones tunes. You sang lullabies before you went to sleep, but while you were cranking Erykah Badu, she was similarly grooving.
So it’s high time you give this kid some solid rocking.
No, not that kind of rocking.
This kind of rocking …
Infants love movement, and are quick to recognize a constant rhythm and are happy to try and bounce or clap along. Some babies are more adept at keeping time with beats, but of course staying in time is not important. What is important is encouraging them to clap, bounce and move however they feel the music.
This is a formative time for them, and their brains are developing at a rapid rate. The more they are challenged to discover new things like beats and melodies, the more their tiny brains will be stimulated. That’s a good thing.
Speaking of melodies, infants are able to recognize simple melodic lines, and love to hear mom and dad sing to them. They are great imitators and will do their best to sing along. It may sound like gibberish to you — cute-as-hell gibberish, for certain – but to baby, she is a major diva. Give her a giant round of applause when she’s done. She deserves it.
A fantastic music-based program for infants and young children is Music Together. The world-wide program is based on getting children to feel free about expressing themselves through music and movement. From toddlers up to ages 7 or 8, kids are immersed in active sound creation through the use of instruments, their bodies and toys. Age-appropriate CDs and accompanying songbooks are issued with each semester, and instruments are provided in the classroom.
Each city that features the program has a host/teacher who provides the materials and holds class at a local public space — a school auditorium, a yoga study, a church meeting hall – and guides the families through a series of exercises to encourage bonding, interaction and musical participation. One super-cool feature: You are not allowed to talk in the classroom; you must sing everything you would normally say.
For example, when you arrive, the first exercise is to sit in a circle with each person singing the “Hello, everybody, so glad to see you” song followed by his or her name. If the children are too young to speak, they are encouraged to clap along while their parent or guardian sings the child’s name. And so classes progress, moving through more complex musical concepts as the kids grow. For advanced classes, kids are taught odd time signatures and harmonic concepts that many of their parents have a hard time mastering.
But it’s not about “getting it” at Music Together. It’s about participating, opening up and expressing yourself. This builds confidence, nurtures the creative spirit and creates a bond between parent and child at a crucial time in the child’s life.
Music Together is currently celebrating 25 years. If you’re interested in opening a Music Together class in your town, here’s how.