‘Into the great wide open
Under them skies of blue…’
The human brain cannot grow to its full size before the baby is born, due to the size of the female pelvis. As a result, the brain is only partially developed at birth and will continue to grow at the same rate as prenatally for two years afterward. This is possibly our greatest asset and our greatest peril. Our subsequent growth and our future contentment rely hugely on what we obtain from those around us in our first days, months, and years of life.
From birth, parents instinctively use music to calm and soothe children, to express their love and joy, and to engage and interact.For very young children, music has power and meaning that go beyond words. Music, and music experiences, also support the formation of important brain connections that are being established over the first three years of life. At around five months, a baby’s ears and brain are wide open to every bit of stimulus she receives. From now on, she will become progressively capable at understanding pitch in the voices, music, and sounds that enter her universe. This is vital because sound differentiation precedes language acquisition. Twelve-month old babies use their fingers a lot to point at people and things. They remind me of little world leaders that convincingly and proudly babble through a debate. The irregular rhythms and imperfect intonations of their humorous drivel are a perfect impersonation of their parents’ dialogue, albeit not one of the ‘words’ is real. But what these young children have achieved is phenomenal: they have learned the music of language.
Babies recognize a song’s melody before they understand the words. They often try to mimic sounds and begin to move to the music as soon as they are physically able. Soft background music can comfort babies, particularly at bedtime. Loud background music can heighten noise levels and overstimulate a baby. Therefore, it is important to be mindful of background influences.
Toddlers enjoy dancing and moving to music. They like to use their whole bodies and explore what they can do and how they can move in many ways. Toddlers love singing. They particularly enjoy silly songs which make them laugh. They themselves like to be silly and enjoy laughing at their friends who act silly. Laughter is an important soundtrack in a toddler’s world. Unlike most adults, they aren’t self-conscious about their ability. In fact, they are keen to let their voices stand out and be heard. Toddlers like songs that repeat words and melodies, use rhythms with a definite and clear beat, and ask them to do things. They enjoy nursery rhymes and songs about familiar things like toys, play activities, animals and people. They also enjoy action songs, finger plays and nonsense rhymes with or without musical accompaniment.
Music is a natural and essential part of life for toddlers. They sing to their cuddly toys, dolls, and action figures, they tap their feet to the rhythm of nursery rhymes, they make up their own soundtrack to a play activity and enjoy the sound of their parents singing to them, even if their parents or other family members or carers can't quite carry a tune.Toddlers do not judge musical capability. They only enjoy the act of music. Music is a social experience. It is often shared with others in singing, dancing, and playing instruments together. Music activities with infants and toddlers can encourage them to: share and take turns; cooperate and collaborate; learn and practice self-regulation; build relationships; experience self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-efficacy; and develop cultural awareness. It also supports gross motor development; fine motor development; balance; body awareness; and bilateral coordination. Music activities can be used across an array of subjects. In fact, young children love to sing their way through any discovery learning opportunity. Music is attractive and fun to young children, therefore music is the perfect medium to educate.
While babies and toddlers are at a crucial age in learning, music can offer lifelong benefits. By participating in various music activities, more pathways between the cells in the toddler’s brain is created. A rich sensory environment develops neural connections which assist toddlers with their learning. Listening to music can make these connections, however, participating in musical activities makes a huge impact. At this age, learning is fun. It is an amazing world of discovery, intrigue, and adventure. It is a journey of self- discovery, networking, realisation, and energetic drama. Singing songs, twirling and swaying to all kinds of music, and whispering lullabies bring toddlers and adults together.
These shared moments are pleasurable and fun and have a long-lasting impact. Relationships are formed and solidified. The love felt during these moments is immeasurable. Music plays a powerful role in young children’s lives. Through music, babies and toddlers can discover who they are and understand their emotions. They learn to interpret designs and sequences and how to solve problems. They explore the world around them in valuable, intricate ways. Most importantly, babies and toddlers feel adored and valued through the act of sharing music experiences with the people they love.