Making Music with Babies


Dianne held her baby and swayed back and forth. She hesitated, moved, bounced, and wiggled as she listened to the music. No one watching would ever have imagined that music was playing. Dianne called herself “musically disabled” and I guess Erin agreed.

Erin teaches Baby Beethoven Classes and has weekly classes filled with energetic new moms who want to offer only the best to their babies. (www.welcome.to/erinpianostudio) They listen to music, learn songs for children, and discover toys and games from all over the world of music.

Mothers vary in their reasons for coming to class. Some love the company of other moms; others love music and can’t wait to have it be a part of their baby’s life. Some, like Dianne, hope that her “bad ear” has not been inherited by her daughter!

Lovely research has been done on a baby’s ability to hear. According to the results of a small UK study, children recognize and prefer music they were exposed to in the womb for at least a year after they are born. Most newborns will turn in the direction of sound, and by four months of age will reach for a musical toy even with the lights off. Newborns prefer music over noise. By six months they show a preference for music with common chords over uncommon ones. 2005 research from Cornell University showed that six-month-old babies could appreciate subtle variations in complex rhythm patterns of Balkan folkdance tunes as easily as can adult Bulgarian and Macedonian immigrants. Babies appreciate the feelings behind music too, as demonstrated by research with 6- to 10-month-olds who showed different responses to “sad” versus “happy” music.

Experts recommend the obvious: Sing and play music for a baby even in utero, make music a part of everyday life, clap baby’s hands to simple songs, and dance along.

Dianne has got the right idea. Making music a fun part of her daughter’s life will certainly enrich the life her daughter lives. "Maybe I'll even learn to dance on beat!" she laughs as she swirls her little one around the room.