Rainbow Connection: A Pathway to Social Bonding

In 2012 an archaeological site in Europe unearthed the oldest musical instrument artifacts ever found: flutes carved from bird bone and mammoth ivory. These instruments date back ~42,000 years. That means that when our Paleolithic ancestors were engaged in the life-saving activities of hunting and gathering they were also prioritizing the making of music.

A 2013 review of musical research describes how when playing music in a group individuals have contact with others, engage in social cognition, develop empathy, communicate, and coordinate their actions. Music actually impacts the brain circuits involved in empathy, trust, and cooperation. Perhaps this explains why music has developed and thrived in every culture of the world.

The key here seems to be shared music making, not merely listening to recorded music. It’s the act of connection that occurs when people gather together to experience and create music. It’s why every world religion employs music in its services. It’s why musicians tour and do live concerts. It’s why political rallies include performances by popular musicians. When you share music together your brain releases oxytocin and chemically bonds you to those around you.

Oxytocin is the same chemical released during breastfeeding. It’s the same neuropeptide associated with physical touch. It is a proven hormone that increases bonding and trust between people. Remember the feeling of love and affection wash over you as your breastfed your little one? Or when you gazed into their eyes as you rocked them and sang a lullaby? That was oxytocin bathing your brain, connecting you and your little one.

THAT is what we do here at Kindermusik. It is an intentional shared musical experience between you and your child that optimizes brain development in them and heightened emotional pleasure in both of you. For our older students, the sharing time with you at the end of class is limited. So it’s even more important that you engage in at-home music making.

THAT is the purpose behind our Rainbow Connection efforts these next two weeks. We provide tools for you to take the Kindermusik experience that you’ve invested in and bring it into your home. We want you to get the full benefits of our program and make shared musical experience a natural, daily part of your family culture. Because it will make your family even more bonded, and make your children even more cooperative, and bring you all emotional well being.

 

Music builds connection.
Music builds brains.
Music builds culture.
Music builds cohesion.
Music builds cooperation.

 

And, as we have learned from our Neanderthal ancestors, as they have passed down in our very DNA, music breeds life.

So dig into your at-home materials with renewed interest and enthusiasm and intention. Develop your own family musical rituals with purpose. And keep coming back to Kindermusik. Keep this development and bonding going through Summermusik and into the next year.

Can’t wait to see your beautifully colored Rainbow Connection papers as you bring them back next week!

Why Shared Musical Experiences with Your Child Are So Important (And Ideas to Implement!)

Parents who seek information about what is best to do for their child—parents like you!—are relieved when an idea can be described as definitively true. It’s even better when that idea involves something that is easy and fun for children and caregivers to do together.

That’s what describes this idea coming out of years of study in Australia:

“…[I]nformal encounters with music at home are critical for young children’s development – with benefits above and beyond those of shared reading. And quite beautifully, the best results are seen when music making is a shared experience between parent and child.”

This statement is highlighted in a December 2017 article about the ongoing research efforts of Professor Margaret Barrett of the University of Australia, Queensland. Barrett began receiving grants to study the different effects of various types of musical exposure on young children in 2001. By 2013, she had honed in on a study called “Being and Becoming Musical.” At that point, Professor Graham Welch, Established Chair of Music Education at the University College London’s Institute of Education, joined her and her team. Data drawn from 3,100 families who participated in the study led the team to this conclusion: “shared music-making at the age of 2–3 years correlates positively with increased school readiness, pro-social skills, and literacy and numeracy outcomes at age 4–5.” That’s some powerful evidence in favor of music!

WHAT DO SHARED MUSICAL EXPERIENCES LOOK LIKE?

The research team included many examples of the types of musical activities parents and children did together. Beyond citing the evidence necessary in a research report, this gives parents some great ideas! Here is a sampling:

  • Parents and children made up simple songs to sing together during routines, such as bath time or meal time.
  • Parents put simple tunes to the words they used to describe what they were doing with children while doing those things—whether it was building with blocks, walking in nature, or dressing to go somewhere. So, rather than simply commenting on how good the warm sun feels, parents might sing about it to a familiar tune like “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”: Shiny, shiny sun so high, shiny, shiny in the sky. Thanks for warming us today. You make it nice for us to play. Shiny, shiny sun so high, shiny, shiny in the sky.
  • Parents and children made up movements and danced together while listening to music.
  • Parents and children figured out how to make instruments like rattles and drums using things around the house, then played them together.

One particularly interesting finding stemmed from the fact that the research team was careful to include parents who ranged from “not at all musical” to “play a musical instrument” in the study. No matter what the parents’ musical background or comfort with making music, the shared musical experiences with their children had positive outcomes.

So don’t let any discomfort you might have get in the way of enjoying musical experiences with your child! Music brings joy. Period.

WHAT ELSE WAS INTERESTING ABOUT THE STUDY?

Dr. Barrett and her team became especially fascinated with the idea that purposeful shared musical experiences had a bonus effect…on the parents! She saw clear signs of something she is calling “musical parenting.” She theorizes that music leads to great opportunities for parent-child bonding. She believes it can help to “foster stronger family relationships.” So stay tuned for more research coming out of the Barrett team providing statistical support for this belief!

Meanwhile, don’t let any time pass before making shared musical experiences as important in your family life as reading aloud hopefully already is. You’re already engaging in this way through Kindermusik classes, but don’t forget your Kindermusik Online at-home materials. And enroll now in our Summermusik classes or pick out your Fall class, and keep that music happening year-round.

To learn more about Dr. Barrett and her research, visit: http://researchers.uq.edu.au/researcher/2030

-Reposted from Kindermusik International

Synchrony

syn·chro·ny: /siNGkrənē/ noun

Simultaneous action, development, or occurrence. The state of operating or developing according to the same time scale as something else.  “Some individuals do not remain in synchrony with the twenty-four-hour day”

–Google Dictionary

(For the similarly named song by The Police, click here.)

In human development terms, synchrony is the dance that happens between babies and caregivers, right around three months of age.  In highly technical terms, it’s what makes adults go completely ga-ga when a baby smiles at them—suddenly, we get huge smiles on our faces and we start talking like we forgot all those grammar lessons from fourth grade.

Sing&Play-Purple

Come into a Sing and Play Kindermusik class and observe the way moms, dads, grandmas and grandpas interact with their babies.  Synchrony abounds.  It is part of why Kindermusik is about developing the whole child, in this case, social skills.

Kathleen S. Berger, in her human development book, Invitation to the Life Span (2014), writes:

“One study found that those mothers who took longer to bathe, feed, and diaper their infants were also most responsive.  Apparently, some parents combine caregiving with emotional play, which takes longer but also allows more synchrony” (pg. 141).

Interestingly the adults are the ones who imitate the babies, not the other way around.  This explains why newborn babies don’t elicit the same response from us.  They get plenty of oooh’s and aaaah’s, but no peek-a-boo games.

What happens when we don’t react this way, when we don’t give the kids this attention?  Ed Tronick, the chief researcher on the still-face technique, shows us (fair warning, it might be really hard not to reach through the computer and give the child some love, but rest assured it doesn’t last long, and ends well):

So, obviously, this is something that comes naturally to us as caregivers, whether or not we’re enrolled in a Kindermusik class.  But Kindermusik has given me is a large array of songs that I can sing to help slow me down during those routines and to engage in this responsiveness cycle with my children.  I can spontaneously burst into a rendition of “Bubbles,” while I’m bathing them, “I See You,” when doing a peek-a-boo game, or “Little Red Wagon,” when I’m bouncing one of them on my lap waiting for the oil to get changed.  And, gratefully, these are songs that I can actually tolerate listening to while we’re driving (unlike Other-CD’s-That-Must-Not-Be-Named).

And, as I have said before, I especially love coming to class and having that time with them there.  While I strive for it daily with my kids, it is the one place where I can come and just be truly present with them—no laundry to worry about, homework to get done, or kitchen floors to mop.

It puts a song in my heart!