Does the melody really matter? Singing and social connection for infants
Ever tried singing “If you’re angry and you know it, stamp your feet” to a toddler who is experiencing a frustrating moment and noticed a light switch on in their eyes and a smile slowly appear?
Many of our Song and Sensory families often comment about the usefulness of songs, particularly our “Hello” song outside sessions. They notice the immediate positive change in their baby’s facial expressions and mood, saying “it’s as though they know the song”. Parents in our music therapy groups report the benefits of song singing to prepare their children for day to day experiences such as waking up in the morning, getting dressed for school, packing up their toys and supporting them emotionally when they appear overwhelmed and frustrated. Children remember these songs for a variety of reasons and one of these reasons is the melody or tune of the song.
Recent research findings (http://pss.sagepub.com/content/early/2016/02/24/0956797615626691.abstract) with five month old babies showed that melodies produced live and experienced at home by their parent carry social meaning for these infants (compared with the same melody from a toy or a socially unrelated person). Interestingly, a variation of parents’ musical skills did not affect these infants’ responses. So in other words, for parents concerned about the quality of their singing voice, don’t be! We remind our Song and Sensory families each session about embracing their unique singing voice as an important tool for emotional and social engagement with their child.
So, perhaps the melody in a song really does matter and can make a difference to a child’s social and emotional development. Make some time to connect with your child through song - it’s never too late to start!