Music, development, and little ones

I am not sponsored by Music Together or any other music program.  I am simply a parent and a SLP who appreciates music.

I have long been a student of music.  I have memories of my dad playing guitar to my brother and I when we were preschoolers.  As a child, I walked around with a microphone at all times.  Through my school-age years, I participated in many choirs and took as many singing lessons as I could.  In college and after college I had the pleasure of singing with an amazing Gospel choir.

Becoming a SLP, I have the amazing opportunity witness the positive impact music has on development.  Music has a predictable rate, rhythm, and tone.  It makes it an excellent tool for not only young children or for those learning to play instruments, but for those who have experienced a traumatic event (i.e., stroke, traumatic brain injury.

The tune “Happy Birthday” helped a client who just suffered a stroke begin to communicate requests again.  I have preschool students who learned behavior expectations and routines through songs I made up on the fly….my Cameron colleagues will no doubt remember my “We Are Walking” song to the tune of Frère Jacques.

IMG_3841When I was pregnant with my son, I was singing as a proud member of my church’s Gospel choir.  I remember feeling him move and groove with the beat.  When my son was born, music was a source of calm for him (and me HA!).  I started looking for organized music classes early on.  I found Music Together !!  Backed by research and a glowing endorsement from a friend who is a music teacher, I enrolled my son when he was 4 months old.

No…he could not fully participate, but I knew the exposure to music and the observation of the social interactions were fabulous for him.  We continue to attend Music Together classes and I share my love for this program with whoever will listen.  I have watched my son go from a 4 month old lap baby staring at the activity to a 16 month old who eagerly engages in the activities, claps and dances to all music, and interacts with peers.  In our last Music Together class, we would joke that my son was the class greeter.  He would grab an instrument and walk up to the other children to say “hi” or to play the instrument.

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My child is not unique in the way music has impacted him.  Music plays a significant role in child development.

Researchers from the University of Washington (UW) suggest that exposure to music positively impacts speech/language processing.  

Researchers from UW examined the effects of music and speech processing on 9-month-old infants.  47 infants participated in the research and we randomly assigned to the intervention group and the control group.  Infants in the intervention group were exposed to music (triple meter) to the tune of familiar children’s songs.  While exposed to this music, in a group setting, the caregivers of the infants tapped out the beat either by hand or with an instrument (e.g., shaker).  The control group infants were grouped together and participated in social interactions, but with no music.  The study lasted for 4 weeks.  During the 4 weeks, participants attended 12, 15 minute sessions.

When the intervention sessions were complete, the participants’ brain processing was tested in music and in speech.  It was found that music intervention the brain’s temporal structure for processing not only music, but for speech, too.  The researchers hypothesize that the intervention also supported the infants in their ability to extract temporal structure information and prediction.

 

For the complete research article: http://www.pnas.org/content/113/19/5212.full#abstract-2

 

 

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