“Music does more than entertain children, it shapes their minds.” ~ Dr. Frances Rauscher For Expecting Moms
“We have evidence that if expecting mom relaxes for a few minutes each day - whether by listening to music or reading - her developing baby is sure to do the same.” ~ Dr. Janet DiPietro, Johns Hopkins University
“The benefits of music are overwhelmingly positive for your baby:” ~ Dr. Lorna Heyge
- Optimizes brain development
- Enhances multiple intelligences
- Builds social/emotional skills
- Promotes attention to tasks and inner speech
- Stimulates creativity and enhances joy
Over the past 25 years, there has been a wealth of research proving the connection of classical music and overall increased intelligence, brain function, creativity and health. Infants exposed to the tranquil refrains of classical music have been able to develop stronger - both physically and mentally.
Music has a powerful effect on our emotions. Parents know that a quiet, gentle lullaby can soothe a fussy baby. And a majestic chorus can make us swell with excitement. But music also can affect the way we think. In recent years, we've learned a lot about how the brain develops. Babies are born with billions of brain cells. During the first years of life, those brain cells form connections with other brain cells. Over time, the connections we use regularly become stronger. Children who grow up listening to music develop strong music-related connections.
Why Classical Music?
The music most people call "classical" – works by composers such as Bach, Beethoven, or Mozart – is different from music such as rock and country. Classical music has a more complex musical structure. Babies as young as three months can pick out that structure and even recognize classical music selections they have heard before.
Researchers think the complexity of classical music is what primes the brain to solve spatial problems more quickly. So listening to classical music may have different effects on the brain than listening to other types of music. This doesn't mean that other types of music aren't good. Listening to soft music helps build music-related pathways in the brain. And music can have positive effects on our moods that may make learning easier.
Some of these music pathways actually affect the way we think. Listening to classical music can improve our spatial reasoning, at least for a short time. And learning to play an instrument may have an even longer effect on certain thinking skills.
A world of over-stimulation leads to a lack of inner peace and serenity. Research has shown that listening to tranquil music can be meditating for both mother and baby:
- From the moment of conception, the rhythm of the mother’s heartbeat gives the baby a sense of security.
- At 16 weeks, the fetus can recognize the mother’s voice and research suggests that sounds have a direct connection to brain development.
- By three to four months, the unborn baby is able to feel mom’s anxiety or tranquility.
- Music with a steady rhythm, similar to the steady beating of the mother’s heartbeat, will help to give the fetus a sense of security and tranquility.
- Studies have shown that passive musical involvement can reduce the release of stress hormones in a variety of circumstances.
- Passive music has shown to alleviate distress in newborns and minimize the length of hospital stays in certain cases.
What Can You Do?
Parents and child-care providers can help nurture children's love of music beginning in infancy. Here are some ideas:
- Play music for your baby.
- Expose your baby to many different musical selections of various styles. If you play an instrument, practice when your baby is nearby. But keep the volume moderate. Loud music can damage a baby's hearing.
- Sing to your baby.
- It doesn't matter how well you sing! Hearing your voice helps your baby begin to learn language. Babies love the patterns and rhythms of songs. And even young babies can recognize specific melodies once they've heard them.
- Sing with your child.
- As children grow, they enjoy singing with you. And setting words to music actually helps the brain learn them more quickly and retain them longer. That's why we remember the lyrics of songs we sang as children, even if we haven't heard them in years.
- Start music lessons early.
- If you want your child to learn an instrument, you don't need to wait until elementary school to begin lessons. Young children's developing brains are equipped to learn music. Most four- and five-year-olds enjoy making music and can learn the basics of some instruments. And starting lessons early helps children build a lifelong love of music.
- Encourage your child's school to teach music.
- Singing helps stimulate the brain, at least briefly. Over time, music education as a part of school can help build skills such as coordination and creativity. And learning music helps your child become a well-rounded person.