Babies in Mixed-Age Classes - Some Basic Q's and A's
Q: I know babies benefit greatly from being involved in mixed-age Music Together® classes. How can I get the most out of class?
A: Your teacher gives you a lavender Babies in Mixed Ages brochure. Enjoy! This brochure will give you lots of ideas for involving your baby in a mixed-age class, including:
Q: What kind of responses to music should I be looking for?
A: You can watch for baby's response to music, especially as someone begins to sing or play. While listening, the baby may stop her usual movements or activity and seem to stare intently or freeze. When the music stops, the baby will often change activity again. Here are some of the ways babies respond to music:
Q: How can I help my infant develop musically?
A: Your baby is likely to pay particular attention to your mouth when you sing, so exaggerate your mouth movements, especially when you are doing songs without words. Babies love contrast and are particularly attentive to changes. That's why in class we juxtapose favorite fast activities next to slow ones, and loud ones next to quiet ones, high-pitched next to low-pitched.
Find ways to allow your baby to feel the rhythm of the song or chant by holding them while you move to the music in class or by gently tapping the baby on various parts of the body. It may also be through moving the baby through space in time to the music.
Q: How can I support my baby's babbling?
A: We have found in our lab schools that the introduction of sound play and games at an early age supports vocal development by increasing the frequency and variety of vocal expression. Parents and other primary caregivers can encourage their babies' singing voices as much as they do their early efforts at speech by responding to their child's vocal sound play. Understanding the developmental importance - for both music and language - of a baby's so-called "babble" makes it possible to perceive it in a different way, to value it, and to want to encourage it for its own sake.
The support children need for their vocal sound play is really not such a difficult thing to provide, because all parents really have to do is follow the lead of their child! As you listen to your baby's babble, notice that he has some favorite sounds and that his preferences change as time goes on. Notice that he plays with some sounds for his own delight and uses others specifically to communicate, either with pets, objects, other children, or a parent. Most parents in our culture will communicate back to the child at these moments with words, perhaps in a sing-song voice which mimics the child's higher range and inflection, but the communication is still in words. Try to communicate back to your baby using the same kinds of sounds he is making. By communicating to him in the same mode or "language" of the moment, you acknowledge and validate your child's creations and extend the duration of his play.
Q: What can I do to learn more about how to play musically at home?
A: In addition to listening to the music (on CD or app) and watching the video in the Books section of your app, you might share your baby's home music behaviors with your teacher and classmates to get more insight: When do you listen to the Music Together recordings? Does she have favorite songs? How do you know they are favorites? How do the older siblings interact with the baby when the music is on? What kinds of vocal play have you tried with your baby?
Q: When is my baby old enough for class?
A: As soon as you are ready to bring baby anywhere, your baby is mature enough to benefit from Music Together. Babies soak up information about the world even while dozing, and you will get great ideas about how to take the music class activities home and use them all week long. . . to ease sleeping, eating, diaper changes, and all transitions. We can't wait to meet your newest fmaily member! Schedule a drop-in to participate in one of our classes with your baby to learn more.