Articles and Advice

The Magic of Music

As parents, many of us have watched in wonder as a lullaby or a gentle rocking motion turned an inconsolable infant into a sleeping bundle in someone's arms. Actually, it's no mystery why babies are comforted by music and rhythm. Even before they are born, infants are comforted by the steady heartbeat and rocking motions of their mothers' bodies. After they are born, these same rhythms continue to console them. Babies begin responding to music in other ways, too, such as swaying their bodies and imitating the rhythms and sounds they hear.

As children grow, activities involving music naturally foster pre-language skills—listening, being attentive, and concentrating—which lead to anticipating what comes next and being able to follow directions. In addition, the rhythms and melodies of music help children anticipate and recognize when it's their turn; as children grow, they will be ready to take their turn. All of these things and more help build the foundation for learning conventional communication and social skills. Music "works its magic" when we involve children in musical play activities that encourage:

  • physical contact
  • repetition
  • taking turns
  • nonverbal responses
  • vocal play
  • action as well as speech
  • an awareness of appropriate timing for action and/or words

Music can work its magic with your child anytime—during mealtimes or other daily routines such as riding in the car, bath time, and bedtime.

Source: Family Connection article for January 2009

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