What the research tells us:
Thomas Verny, M.D., with John Kelly, from The 'Secret Life of the Unborn Child', says that "The fetus can see, hear, experience, taste and, on a primitive level, even learn in utero. Most importantly, he can feel, not with an adult’s sophistication, but feel nonetheless." And "... the child from the sixth month in utero onward can already remember, hear, even learn."
"Babies who have been stimulated while in the womb exhibit advanced visual, auditory, language and motor development skills. These babies sleep better, are more alert to their environment and surroundings and are far more content than infants who did not receive any form of prenatal stimulation," says Thomas Verny, M.D., and Rene Van de Carr. And again from 'The Secret Life of the Unborn Child', "Studies have proven that music played to your unborn child helps to; facilitate intellectual development, engage the baby’s attention, communicate a mother’s and father’s love, develop learning, language and memory skills, and stimulate latent musical abilities".
"Prenatal sounds form an important developmental component in prenatal life because they provide a foundation for later learning and behaviour. With fetal sound stimulation the brain functions at a higher level of organization." from 'Life Before Birth: The Importance of Prenatal Sound and Music' by Giselle E. Whitwell.
Keith Whiting says that "Babies remember music they hear in the womb more than a year later. Some mothers find that playing the same calming music they listened to before the baby was born calms the baby after birth.
What to do at home:
Your baby's hearing has developed by 16 weeks, so you can begin your prenatal music stimulation anytime after that. Choose a piece of music about 5mins long. Everyday, take the time to sit down and listen to the music in a relaxed state. Take the music to the birth, as you should play it once the baby is born. You may even find that during labour, it has a calming effect for you! Once the baby is born, play the music a number of times during the day, everyday. It can also help with calm, for example at change and sleep time. You never have to stop playing this music for your child. It will always have a calming effect on them and they will always enjoy listening to it.
Here are some suggestions of lovely choices as your prenatal music:
Composers: Bach, Vivaldi, Albinoni, Pachelbel, Telemann, Purcell and Handel.
Music: Canon by Pachelbel, Largo from Winter from the Four Seasons by Vivaldi, Prelude from Cello Suite in G by Bach.
Artists: Orchestra - Il Giardino Armonico, Violin - Joshua Bell, Cello - Jaap ter Linden
Continuing Musical Education:
There are a number of music programmes for pre-school and beyond. What I know best is the Suzuki Method, so here is some information about this particular method of learning music for children from birth.
Suzuki Method and Philosophy:
Dr Suzuki (1898-1998) was a Japanese violinist and accomplished teacher whose career spanned over 50 years. He studied children and the way in which they learn. Encouraged by their ability to assimilate their “mother tongue”, he saw great opportunity to enrich children’s lives through music, but he also recognised the unique contribution music can make in the total learning process. The purpose of Suzuki training is not to produce great artists, but to help every child find the joy that comes from music-making. Dr Suzuki wrote many books and essays. I recommend reading "Nurtured by Love" and "Ability Development from Age Zero". A major part of the Suzuki Method is listening and repetition. Listening to the curriculum CD is a daily task and helps the child be familiar with the music. The CD is the model for the child. Repetition is an important part of learning any skill. Dr Suzuki said 'knowledge plus 10 000 times equals thorough mastery.' The lovely part of the Suzuki Method is seeing the older children mentor the younger students and seeing how much the younger ones look up to their older counterparts. Dr Suzuki made a plea to all parents, “Please, prepare the best environment for your child. Parent and child should grow together looking forward to the future.”
Musical Tots Suzuki Baby & Toddler Music
Musical Tots is aBaby & Toddler music programme, based on Dr Suzuki's philosophy of teaching music.
The classes are for newborns up to 3 years old. Children learn from one another, so having the wide age range means the younger children see great modelling from the older children, and being a model gives children a sense of pride and confidence. All classes provide opportunities for intellectual, social, emotional and physical development, as well as lay the foundation for future Suzuki instrument classes. Nursery rhymes and action songs are used to develop these skills.
Once the child has graduated from the Musical Tots Music programme at about 3-4yrs old, they are equipped with the skills to enter a Suzuki Instrumental Studio.
In the Wellington region, violin, piano, cello and guitar are represented in the Suzuki Method. Each Suzuki branch in New Zealand offers workshops during the year, a camp in the summer holidays, concerts and a journal. By being part of a music studio, students gain confidence, fine motor skills, social and emotional skills as well as an appreciation of music. They feel the joy of playing music and later on can be involved in chamber music, orchestras and even become teachers themselves.
LMC Music Studio offers Suzuki Violin Lessons from the age of 3 years.
Keep in touch:
Let me know when your child is born!
If you can, keep a diary and take note of how your prenatal music stimulation goes, and also your babies reaction to the music once they are born and how they respond when you use it for a calming influence. I would love to hear about it, as would other expectant mothers.
If you are interested in seeing a Musical Tots class in action, or finding out more about the Suzuki Method of teaching, please don't hesitate to contact me.
I wish you and the baby well with everything and look forward to hearing from you.