Wednesday, March 9, 2011

GIE #29: Music Education Starts in the Womb


I come from a musical family, both my grandfather and my dad are musicians. I was exposed to a variety of music as far back as I can remember. My husband also has an amazing voice even though he never took voice lessons and doesn't really use it regularly. So it isn't really a surprise to me that our daughter lives off of music. With that said, I still firmly believe that me listening to music non-stop while she was in the womb had a big impact on that.

Just as an example, when I was pregnant I listened mostly to classical music because I really enjoy it and it relaxes me. I did this nearly every day as I went about my business. I noticed that she would settle down in the womb every time I played calm music or started 'dancing' when I put on something upbeat. Fast forward to holding the newborn in my arms in January of 2009. When she would cry for no good reason, I would turn on calm classical music and it would instantly calm her down. What a genius parenting tool! Wouldn't every mom want that? Put on some calm music and you have a calm baby. I think it makes sense and is pretty logical.

To add another anecdote, a friend of mine is mom to two boys and we were pregnant with our first babies at the same time. She isn't really a fan of classical, though she does love music. She listened mostly to upbeat rock both with the baby in the womb and as an infant. To say she's got an upbeat boy is an understatement! It's funny how the music that our babies listened to all through infancy pretty much shaped their personalities. So I would be careful with what music you pick to listen to, because it clearly affects babies, and not just from my experiences. If you want a calm baby, pick calm music, if you want a baby who will be more off-the-wall, then accordingly pick some music that will facilitate that. Of course there are no guarantees, but I believe babies are very malleable and even though they are born with their own personalities - as a parent you have the power to still shape them with music, words, and love.

Today baby E can not go for a day without music. We listen to a variety of folk music from various countries, jazz, classical, and light rock. The first thing she does when we wake up and go downstairs is pick out the music she wants to play. She also has a thing for instruments, more like an addiction. She need to touch and play every single one she sees. For a while we had many pretend instruments from common household items, saxophone, guitar, violin... We were finally able to get her a digital piano and she loves listening to the sounds she makes playing it. She has amazing hearing. She notices sounds that I don't. She can be in the middle of an involved task and will stop suddenly when she hears the slightest noise or music somewhere. She loves making up her own songs, which she learned from me I guess. Sometimes instead of saying something to her, I sing it in a random tune. Now she makes up her own tunes. Granted, I don't ever think about these things or do them on purpose, it just flows out of who I am.

I think a musical education regardless of whether the child is talented or not is essential to development. It activates the brain in a way nothing else can quite duplicate. I love that in these infant and toddler years it has become such a large part of us without ever being forced. Before you know it, there will come a day when baby E will no longer be a baby and will have to choose which instrument she wants to play.

What role does music play (pun intended) in your life?

PS: Fun cardboard violin tutorial coming soon!

If you haven't yet, check out numbers 1 through 28 of our Glimpse into Eco-Babyz:

Image: Michal Marcol / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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