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Have a New baby?

Tips for Nurturing Musical Potential

Sing to your baby often.

Do it for the same reason that you speak to your baby. Research has shown that we can encourage musical development just like we encourage language development. The ear is completely developed very early (before the 3rd trimester). Your baby loves to hear you sing. Watch for small physical movements (hands, feet, mouth) that show your baby is enjoying absorbing the sounds. The first 18 months are the most important time!

Exaggerate mouth and facial expressions while singing to your baby.

Look right into your baby’s face. Put your baby on his or her back, bend over your baby, and get really close. Infants love to watch a parent’s face. Sing with a smile and an animated expression.

Incorporate music making into your everyday activities.

Sing songs during diaper changing, while taking a walk, or while pushing your baby in a swing. Sing a lullaby before naptime and bedtime. Make up words about what your baby does and use them for tunes you already know. Include your baby’s name often.

Allow some silence after songs

Silence gives your baby an opportunity to mentally process what was just heard.

Imitate your baby’s sounds.

Have a cooing, singing dialogue to encourage vocalization. Listen carefully for cooing and crying on a particular pitch. Try to match the pitch. Music experts report that matching your baby’s pitch is one way to calm your baby.

Help your baby experience rhythm and beat and flow.

Babies can feel rhythm through your touches and taps. When you listen to a CD or sing to your baby, gently tap your baby’s tummy, chest, arms, legs or the bottom of baby’s feet. Make circle movements, or massage and rub your baby while you dance/rock/sing. Lay baby down and move his or her feet in a“bicycle” motion.

Beat is the steady pulse that continues throughout a song or chant os song without words. Attach your child to the beat by bouncing or tapping. Flow is the continuous movement during a song. Waving scarves, or ribbons, using your arms, hands , hips, etc are all ways of demonstrating and experiencing flow.

Dance with your baby.

Infants also develop rhythm by feeling it through your body as you move. Hold your baby close and use favorite positions. Move distinctly to the beat. Swing your baby, walk, or dance to the microbeat (little beat) or macrobeat (big beat). Expressive flow is also an option which may or may not have the strong beat attached to it.

Create a rich vocabulary of musical sounds for your baby.

Introduce baby to a variety of musical sounds from your favorite CDs, live concerts or a reputable early childhood music class.

Invest in some baby-safe percussion instruments and dancing scarves

(think washable, handles, large shapes, covered parts).

Eggs, drums, or caged bells are good choices. Buy some instruments for yourself that are fun for you to play. Or, make a kitchen instrument box. Invite some friends over, put on a CD, sing and have a jam session.

Give your child the gift of a special lullaby time.

Memories of being sung to and rocked are powerful memories for many adults. Choose a favorite from a CD or one that you already know. Make it a ritual.

Enroll in a quality early childhood music program near you.

A good instructor in a quality program will facilitate your efforts to develop your child’s potential and create a positive disposition towards making music.

During class, turn your baby toward you for security.

Lay baby on a blanket, or prop baby on a pillow or knee. If you have a toddler too, put baby in a “snuggli” instead of the car carrier or stroller.

Many babies and toddlers LOVE facing each other during class, be sensitive to which experience is most enjoyable for your little one.

Adjust what the class is doing to fit the needs of your baby.

Engage your baby during the activities. Float a scarf over baby during a scarf song instead of just waving the scarf with the other moms. Gently tap baby’s feet with sticks during a stick song. Rest baby’s hands on top of yours for a drum song. Ask for suggestions, or check the class materials for specific suggestions.

You are your child's most important teacher. Use this wonderful window of opportunity to nurture your baby’s musical potential and encourage a positive disposition for making music.

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You are your child's most important teacher. Use this wonderful window of opportunity to nurture your baby’s musical potential and encourage a positive disposition for making music.

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