Category Archives: Infants and music

Music, language, and babies

Credit: © zinkevych/Fotolia.com

Credit: © zinkevych/Fotolia.com

Within days of my last post about babies and interactive music classes, a study came out saying literally the same thing about babies and language – that interaction with a parent is key to language development for babies just as the interactive music making was crucial in developing music skills for babies.

Researchers have known for years that reading to infants as young as six months is crucial for language development, and that parents who consciously babble with their babies accelerate language learning.   But they haven’t been sure what it is about reading to infants that helps develop language. Continue reading

New year – new musical beginnings

Credit: © Noam/Fotolia.com

Credit: © Noam/Fotolia.com

What better way to begin the new year than by talking about new lives and musical beginnings!  Babies and music are a source of endless fascination – and the subject of a lot of research.  We know that babies like to be sung to (think lullabies), they like bouncing or waving their arms when they hear music, they like toys that make musical sounds, and if musical toys aren’t available, they find their own musical instruments.

Newborns have a wide range of musical abilities, some of which I’ve written about in  Are we hardwired for music?    Now a recent study from McMaster University shows that babies benefit from musical training even before they can walk or talk.  One-year old babies who participated with their parents in interactive music classes communicated better, showed more sophisticated brain responses to music, and even smiled more.    Continue reading

Should everyone be able to make music if we’re hardwired for it?

I thought I had finished writing this post when a fascinating new study appeared in my Inbox, and I simply had to incorporate it.  Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered that, for several months after birth, infants can recognize a melody that they have heard in utero.  In a study of 24 women conducted during the final trimester of pregnancy, half of the women played Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star to their fetuses five days a week for the last few weeks of their pregnancies, half did not.  (Yes, the researchers really used Twinkle, Twinkle.)  Continue reading

Are we hardwired for music?

Music has usually been studied as a cultural product – specific to a certain time and place. We associate different kinds of music, tuning systems, qualities of the sound and kinds of instruments with different ethnic groups or different cultural societies.  And we attribute different structural forms, harmonic systems and (again) instruments to various time periods.  We learn why Bach could only have written what he did during the era that came to be known as the Baroque and why the minimalism of Philip Glass or Steve Reich could only have happened in the late twentieth century (although Satie came close in the late 19th century). Continue reading