Let’s SING!

You may have noticed our new “Let’s Sing!” initiative in our studio. We have always encouraged you and your little ones to sing along with us during our classes, but sometimes it’s easy to forget to participate in this most fundamental way.

We get it. Not everyone feels confident singing. Sometimes it’s easier to let the educator take the lead, and enjoy class in a more passive way. Maybe you’re intimidated by the other strong voices in your class. Whatever barriers might exist that make you feel less inclined to sing, we want to remind you of the reasons why singing along is so beneficial!

  • Your voice is your child’s FAVORITE voice. No one sounds quite like mom, dad, grandma, or nanny. A child’s primary caregiver is their source of comfort and security, and a huge part of that is familiarity with your voice. Not your child’s primary caregiver? Singing to them is an extremely effective way to build the same level of bonding and attachment that they have with their primary caregiver, making the time that you care for them that much more effective and easy.
  • As mentioned before, ATTACHMENT with a child or infant is super-charged when you add singing. Lullabies and playful songs promote eye contact, intentional touch, and build connection. And as we know from Conscious Discipline research, “connection builds cooperation”. Don’t miss out on this easy way to connect with your child.
  • Teach your child by EXAMPLE. Want your child to gain the language development benefits that come from singing along? Show them how. Want your child’s brain to light up in all developmental areas? Encourage them to sing by singing yourself! Want your child to develop the pro-social group behaviors that come from collective singing? Lead the way. They won’t learn how to exercise their voices if you aren’t using yours.
  • It’s FUN. As delightful as our Kindermusik classes are designed to be, you can make it that much more of a special experience by adding your voice to ours. A whole choir of families engaged in musical play and learning is such a beautiful sound!

No matter your vocal ability, Kindermusik is a safe place to use your first and most basic instrument. Your voice is a huge part of who you are. And you are welcome here, just as you are. Whether you have classical vocal training or none at all. Whether you’ve got vocal confidence or none at all. Where else can you let your inner child out to play and be completely safe? Kindermusik isn’t just a safe environment for your child, it’s a safe place for YOU. We invite you to throw those inhibitions out the door, tuck those cell phones back in your bags, and be fully present, both physically and vocally, with your child when in our studio.

Let’s SING!

Babble On . . . It Benefits Baby!

If the hours of cute baby footage on YouTube are any indication, watching a baby babble is a pretty solid form of entertainment. Just check out one of the hundreds of videos with titles like “cutest baby babble videos ever,” and you’ll see what we mean. You won’t be able to resist the urge to giggle—and perhaps even babble right back yourself.

Actually, choosing to babble back to a baby is a great instinct. Babies love hearing you mirror their speech sounds right back to them—and doing so encourages them to continue with their own babbling. This is how babies first experience verbal back-and-forth communication and learn the patterns that characterize speech. So those seemingly nonsensical sounds are actually quite significant.  After all, sounds—which have absolutely no meaning in isolation—are the building blocks of words. When your baby babbles, he or she is putting together sounds in pleasing ways and learning how our language works. Babbling also helps develop the muscles a child needs to speak.

When baby babbles and mom responds, it creates a social feedback loop of communication and learning, which is what we call language.

Beyond Babbling

You can also respond to baby babbling in more sophisticated ways. Notice what’s prompting your child’s babbling (did he or she see something exciting or interesting? Is he or she imitating a specific sound?) and respond by affirming it. Use rich vocabulary to describe what’s going on: “Yes! That is a cute dog. Look at his big eyes. He is wagging his tail. He likes you, too!”

To help your child begin to develop listening ears as well as speaking skills, focus attention on specific sounds: “What’s that sound? It’s a dog barking. Woof, woof!” Don’t be surprised if the sounds then become part of your child’s babbling vocabulary.

baby babble - kindermusik

Embrace Your “Baby Voice”

Don’t be afraid to use that high-pitched sing-song voice that comes so naturally when you’re talking to a baby. This type of speech, characterized by a slower cadence, shorter sentences, exaggerated intonation, and lots of repetition, is known as “motherese,” or “child-directed speech.” Research suggests that speaking to your child this way can actually boost their language development and learning, since babies are better able to attend to and understand “motherese” than regular adult speech.

Whenever you talk to your baby, be sure to make eye contact. This is a very important part of meaningful communication. Even if your baby can’t answer you in words, you’ll know from his or her facial expressions that he or she is participating in the conversation.

Cut Down on Cell Phone Babbling

This comes as no surprise, but it’s a good idea to put away your phonewhen you’re spending quality time with your baby. Save texts, emails, and calls for later, and just focus on your child. Continually glancing at your screen not only interrupts the critical one-on-one interaction that teaches your baby about communication, but also distracts you from the important cues your child is giving you.

Don’t Have Preconceived Notions About When “Real Speech” Will Occur

Every parent waits for that magical moment when a child first says “Mama” or “Dada.” But that will come in each baby’s own time, not according to any particular schedule. It’s good to have a sense of the typical language development trajectory and milestones, but it’s a broad range, so try not to get too caught up on specific deadlines.

baby babble - kindermusik

In the meantime, keep up that back-and-forth babbling! As with almost everything, music makes it more fun and interesting. And (surprise!) we even have some babble-friendly suggestions for you: Try singing along to “Dipidu”  during your morning routine—during diapering, feeding, or dressing. And play “Bubbles on Me” during bath time, so your baby can practice forming syllables as he or she blows buh-buh-buh bubbles in the tub. These are the moments when you truly realize how important you are as your baby’s first teacher.

To experience this weekly at our in-studio experience, join us for a class!

reposted from Kindermusik International

Music and Language Acquistion

This week in the after-school Spanish class I teach, we began working on weather words, and I showed my small class my favorite video for this unit:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IrFxl91nrvE

All my kids walked out of class with a great earworm—exactly what I wanted!

You may not remember much from your years studying a foreign language in school, but I’d bet you remember a song or two.  It’s no secret that music serves as a fantastic vehicle for second language development.

There is a fascinating study by Brandt, Gebrian and Slevic, published in the Frontiers of Psychology journal online by the National Institute of Health that talks about how music and language develop.  After examining similarities and dissimilarities of music between cultures and across time, they decide that “ (M)usic is creative play with sound; it arises when sound meets human imagination.”

Isn’t that a great definition?  Creative play with sound, mixed with human imagination.  Sounds exactly like my daughter’s Kindermusik class!

They write, “speech and music turn out to be closely related” in terms of how the brain processes the sounds.  Additionally, when they looked at the great variety of musicality in multiple languages, they concluded that even the pitch of spoken language carries meaning, as when, in English, we turn a sentence into a question just by changing the inflection of our voice: “You’re doing well?”

Importantly, they note that, since a baby is unable to distinguish what parts of speech are unimportant, he or she pays attention to “all of the musical features of speech.”  This attention “provides a richer context for language induction.”  In fact, the ability to “hear musically” allows us to learn language in the first place!

Here is one of my favorite examples of the musicality of language.  Pogo created it (and many others) by taking snippets of sounds from movies and turned them into songs of their own.  Everything, from the beatbox in the background, to the phonemes that we imagine into certain lyrics, comes from the varying pitches in people’s voices (though sometimes he includes bits from the soundtrack).  My kids enjoy listening to them, too!

Kindermusik’s mission is to develop the whole child.  As it is inextricably connected with language development, music gives us a powerful medium to do just that.