Monday, October 30, 2017

#AskAlexia: Why Bring a Newborn to a Music Class?

My neighbor was having a birthday party for her four year-old son, and I was chatting with our other neighbor, whose son is thirteen.  Naturally, I was talking about Music Together! She asked me what the youngest age of child I had ever had in class, and I told her "hmm, I think the youngest was about three weeks old!" Sometimes, a family with a toddler in class has a baby, and as soon as they are ready, the new sibling comes to join the class.  But the youngest I can remember a child coming to class on his own was two months.  My neighbor was incredulous.  "What can a two-month old baby get out of a music class?" she asked.

What a great question! And it was one I was happy to answer for her. There are so many reasons to start a newborn in music class, and they may not be the ones you think of when choosing classes for older children!

First, let's imagine that you have a newborn.  Everyone knows that newborns can't talk.  Would you then *not* talk to the baby?  Of course not!  We know that we have to talk to babies to help them learn to understand our language, and to convey our feelings through tone of voice.  We know that communicating through language is a basic life skill, so we nurture that immediately.  Well, music making is also a basic life skill!  If you want to fully support your child's innate musical aptitude, you have to begin exposing them to music making as early as possible.  

Could you do that at home? Of course!  But many new parents don't know where to start when it comes to making music.  Most parents will say their children are musical, but they don't give themselves the same credit.  I've met many parents who have never sung a lullaby to their child, because they just don't know what to sing, or they harbor a secret fear that they "can't sing" and that their poor singing will somehow negatively impact their baby. The good news is that your child is hardwired to love the sound of your voice, and anything you sing is fine.  Just the act of adding a lullaby ritual to your lives will support their development and enhance the bonding between you and baby.  My sister used to sing Christmas carols as lullabies to her baby, because they were the only songs she knew all the words to.  When you come into a Music Together class, we give you the tools to feel comfortable singing to and with your child, both in class and at home.  So, when you bring that newborn into class, you are also doing it for yourself.

Music class is also a great place to connect with other moms. Even if you have older children, a lot of moms report forgetting a lot of the baby stuff once their first child has past those stages.  We still need to share ideas and "war stories" with other moms, as well as get some of that much-needed adult conversation (before or after class, of course!).

Very young babies also get a lot out of just being in class.  Hearing people making music from a young age makes it a normal part of their everyday life, which it is not, for so many people!  Rocking and bouncing to the beat helps support baby's rhythmic development.  You'll often hear very young babies start to sound on the resting tone or dominant tone of the song we've just sung, showing us that it's never too early to start a music class.  And, although they don't get as much socializing out of class as toddlers do, if they start in class early, they may fall into the social aspect of the class easier and earlier than their peers who are joining well into toddlerhood.

So, if you have a little bitty one, or are expecting, don't write off music classes as something "for when she's older." I was that person!  I waited until my son was almost two, and immediately wished I'd joined much earlier.  And Music Together is really the only kind of class where newborns do get so much out of the program.

What do you think?  Have you had a baby in Music Together classes?  Have you put off classes until later?  Share your experience with us!

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