Music has always been a foundational component in my life. Growing up with two parents who were musicians, even in the womb I was exposed to a variety of musical environments from orchestras to church choirs and beyond. I always enjoy hearing my mom recount her pregnancy as she carried me. She had a particular orchestral series she played for me often that my dad had helped to transcribe for publication. Knowing the importance of music, especially as it related to my auditory processing development, she chose to play these selections repeatedly during her pregnancy and even in the hospital prior to and following my delivery. My parents also believed that this music along with their voices would provide a sense of familiarity for me as I started my journey outside the womb. My mom always said the doctors were completely shocked to see how alert and calm I was upon my arrival. She believes I was listening intently to my familiar music as it made me feel safe in an unfamiliar environment.
Fast forward now, I am an early childhood music educator and a mom of a 4 year old son. During my pregnancy, I was fortunate to be able to continue teaching everyday up until the day he was born. So, you can imagine, all the music he heard and all the children singing and talking all day long! I always laughed and said he was going to be an extremely busy child because he was always kicking and moving in my belly. And well, I was right, he has remained to this day to be a ball of energy, super social and yet with a love of music one could only imagine. So, being this energetic as a baby, he struggled to settle down and rest. His auditory processing was always detecting the movement and excitement around him. He was listening to everything around him. It was stimulating to him. It also kept him awake because he simply didn’t want to miss out! This required me to get creative. My husband had a favorite song that we played even while William was in the womb. Upon his arrival, we would play this song in moments when he couldn’t settle down. This song along with a praise and worship song I sang to him often assisted in providing an opportunity for him to take a breath, relax and rest. It was surreal to see him go from screaming to complete silence in a moment’s time as his ears heard the melody. Even to this day, when he starts to get too excited, I turn on music. He immediately stops and begins to listen. He is so content when music is playing. It has become one of my most powerful motherhood calming tools.
I think back to when he began his first week of music class at about 2 months old to now. When he started, he couldn’t truly interact or hold the manipulatives. He simply hadn’t developed the necessary skills. However, his auditory processing was fully functioning and receiving all of the sound stimulation. Now, he not only participates with his peers, but sings on pitch, repeats rhythmic patterns accurately and will make up his own verses to familiar songs. He can hear a new song one time, and constantly recognizes a familiar word or starts singing the melody completely on pitch. Recently, he has become fascinated with both “Für Elise” and the “Moonlight Sonata” by Beethoven. He tells me that he is going to learn to play them on the piano and that he can teach me. His favorite time is getting to choose what song he wants to listen to from my husband’s phone, because believe it or not, his collection of repertoire is far greater than mine! But it doesn’t bother me, because it has provided such a special way for my husband to still share in music making with my son, even though he is not a musician. My husband’s love for music is incredible and he helps to remind my son and I to explore all types of music because they are all unique!
I am so grateful for this amazing tool in my life. Music has been a way for me and my family to bond and release stress during our struggles and challenges. We all have our ups and downs in life, but I feel it is important to have tools in place that can help us navigate these moments. It doesn’t mean it will solve our problems completely or make it go away, however, it helps to remind us of what is truly important and value those times together. Maybe for you, there is something else that serves as this vehicle. My encouragement today would be if you haven’t found that one family bonding tool, brainstorm. Or, I invite you to give music a try! Regardless of what you choose, make it fun and just enjoy being together.
Director of Operations and Instructor
South Florida Music