Edited from Music Therapy for Healthy Children and
by Jamie Blumenthal, MA,MT-BC
Age Group: Infants - Children
Have you ever felt more relaxed when listening to music? Have you ever listened to music that instantaneously brought up strong feelings or brought you back to a special time from the past? Have you ever felt a sense of inner strength or spirituality when listening to music? Have you ever sung a lullaby to help comfort a crying baby or sung the alphabet song to a young child who is just learning the alphabet?
you can answer “yes” to any of these questions, then you
have experienced the power of music. Music can evoke emotions, memories,
and spiritual or social connectedness, as well as provide a means of
expressing feelings and a sense of safety, security and comfort to young children.
There are endless ways you can bring music into your child’s life (and your own life) to enhance well-being and quality of life.
It is no mistake that lullabies from around the world all have a similar tempo. The tempo of a lullaby matches the tempo of the human heartbeat. Lullabies can be used to comfort crying babies and help them feel secure when going to sleep. When we sing lullabies to our children, we are nurturing them and communicating our love. Incorporating lullabies into a bedtime ritual can help children make the difficult transition into sleep. Lullabies can also be used if a child wakes up at night, has a nightmare or is sleeping away from home. With a lullaby in the background, babies and children can feel even more emotionally secure and safe when being held close to your body while you gently dance around a room or rock slowly in a rocking chair.
Drumming for Children
Children as young as 6 months can play an instrument to the beat of a song, even if it is for only 2-4 beats. The drumbeat is the human way of imitating the heartbeat. Remember that a mother’s heartbeat is what a baby has heard and felt for the first nine months while in the womb. We never lose our response to this comforting sound. Even Alzheimer’s patients will respond to the beat of a drum when nothing else will reach them.
Children love to move to the beat of a drum. You can use different rhythms to indicate how to move. Play fast and children can run. Play very slow steady beats for big steps, softly for tiptoeing, silence for stopping, or make up your own. Doing this type of activity with children helps to develop listening skills, sound discrimination, awareness of starting and stopping (this could become part of safety awareness), as well as develop gross motor skills. You can do the drumming and have your child do the movement or better yet reverse it. Children don’t have a lot of opportunities to be in control. Let your child have the drum and you can do the movement. They quickly become aware of their “power” in a very positive way. They also learn about rhythm by doing this.
Music for Relaxation
Calm, quiet music can be used to reduce stress and enhance relaxation. The relaxed state induced by music is reflected in changes in brain-wave patterns. Simply having relaxing music in the background can change the way you feel. You can play relaxation music in the morning to reduce the stress of the morning routine. I sometimes like to play it around dinnertime when I’m tired, hungry and stressed. I find it helps to calm the children as well as me. Relaxation music can be used to reduce anxiety in a situation where you feel anxious. Studies have shown that blood pressure is more stable when this kind of music is used before, during and after surgery. Relaxation music can be used when you have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. There are relaxation and guided imagery tapes for children who feel stressed or are having difficulty sleeping.
Music to Enhance Relationships
Singing or playing music together as a family or with friends can be a fun way to enjoy being together. There are many songs for young children that have hand motions or movements. You can do the motions hand over hand with your child. They love the physical touch, the play, the eye contact and most of all the love that comes from being with their parents. As a family, you can go to concerts or other performances together or make your own music at home.