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Music and Learning

Babies respond to music at a very early age, even before they are born, so it’s never too soon to start exposing babies to music and interacting with them musically.

Incorporating musical activities into daily routines is not just good for developing musical ability, but is great for listening skills and the development of speech and language. Rhythm is important for the smooth coordinated movements essential for sports, and it assists in the understanding of mathematics. Music is great for the development of reading and writing and the concept of time, along with many other things.

All you need is the two of you and your voices to sing, hum, read poetry and rhyming books. You don’t have to be a good singer just be yourself and be enthusiastic – it’s infectious! Don’t forget to hold baby close to your chest so they can feel the rhythmic vibrations from your body. There are lots of nursery rhymes, action songs and finger plays that you can use. It’s a great idea to sing at close range so baby can learn from how you place lips, mouth and tongue as you produce the sounds. Use lots of repetition and in time you can increase the repertoire, as the wider the variety of listening exposure, the better.

Movement activities can be combined with music to assist development. Bouncing, rocking, rolling will all help develop a sense of rhythm. Researchers have gained some insights into what is happening in the brain when infants are bounced to the beat. In a study of babies’ perceptions of music psychologists found that movement was the key factor in helping wire the brain to hear rhythm. (Feeling the Beat: Movement Influences Infant Rhythm Perception, Jessica Phillips-Silver and Laurel J Trainor; Science, June 3, 2005). The seven month old infants who took part in the study showed decided preference for music that had accents on the same beat on which they had been bounced. The infants consistently chose to listen longest to rhythm patterns that matched those patterns to which they had been physically bounced. The researchers concluded that the movement influenced the remembering of the rhythm

So what can you do? Dance with your baby so they feel the beat through your movements. Exercising to the beat is a wonderful way of providing stimulation to your baby that will help develop a sense of rhythm. Move baby’s arms and legs up and down to the beat while you are singing or listening to music. Also on this website you will find some wonderful props you can use such as rattles, maracas, bells, drums and other sound producing toys to enhance your musical play time with your baby, toddler or preschooler

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