The Power of Music

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Have you noticed what a powerful effect music has on children? Within minutes, soft peaceful music can calm them right down, or loud music with an upbeat tempo will instantly transform them into mad creatures wildly springing round the room.

   

The School Run

Music is amazing at creating a mood. It seems to enter their brains at a subliminal level and speak to the unconscious mind. I often put soft peaceful music on the car stereo on the drive home from school, to quell the irritability brought on by tiredness at the end of the school day. It seems to take the edge off all the sneaky pinching and kicking in the back seat. Simon and Garfunkel fit the bill nicely. But I can’t play it on the way to school, unless I want them to lose the ability to walk, and all whine to get in the buggy at once!

Naptime

I use classical and meditation music to soothe the little one to sleep at naptime. He has been conditioned to it from the time I became his nanny when he was a baby (I used to play him a couple of specific ‘sleep CDs’ that I’d made for him while I gave him his naptime bottle and cuddle). He will now nod off whenever he hears his ‘sleep music’! This makes balancing his energy levels really easy and means he makes it through to bedtime without any tears or upsets.

Mealtimes

I find music a really powerful tool for creating a specific atmosphere. At mealtimes, when they usually tend to bounce up and down shrieking rather than eating, I find it helps a lot to play something soothing like Aled Jones singing ‘Walking in the Air’ while adopting a measured, genteel tone of voice to deliver a story. (Speaking like the Queen tends to encourage Manners). This subdues the energy ‘high’ brought on by the ingestion of food sufficiently for them to eat at least part of their meal. I suppose it’s healthy to stop eating once you’re no longer hungry, but after all, they do need to put back some of the calories they’ve been burning off zooming around all day!

Instruments

Children are often fascinated by musical instruments – real ones, not plastic fob-off baby ones. As this six year old played the long-drawn-out ringing note of a Tibetan singing bowl, her four year old sister expressed the effect of the dreamlike meditative quality by murmuring, “This makes my mind go away…and my soul seeks off to a faraway land!” (We’ve been discussing souls quite a lot lately.)

    

Children love to explore the sounds that can be made with real musical instruments, and will learn far more naturally, joyfully and intuitively from being immersed in a musical environment than from formal music lessons. Often, a child with musical parents will believe he too can play an instrument, and will learn quickly and easily from handling the instruments.

    

   

    

I saw this principle in action recently in the form of an amazing band of young musicians who were jamming together effortlessly and spontaneously at a folk festival while smaller children danced. The musicians – aged from 8 to 13 – had learned the language of music from early childhood as effortlessly as a spoken language. A couple of them played more than one instrument, switching naturally between them like a bilingual child.

There is a wonderful website I’d like to share with you, called Myriad Toys, that sells real children’s instruments. It’s listed in my Favourite Websites section to your right.>>>>

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About Cathy Owen

I have enjoyed working and playing with children for over 20 years, starting with a holiday job as mother's helper to two different families and babysitting for neighbours from the age of 17. My experience since then includes working with children from 3 months to 12 years, in schools, nurseries, toddler groups and homes, as a teacher assistant, play leader, special needs facilitator, after school and holiday club supervisor/planner, childminder, and currently as a private nanny. My Discovery Boxes developed out of my observation and interaction with young children and a desire to enter and enrich their world. Children are our greatest teachers; their imagination has a magical quality that makes the world a more exciting and wondrous place. I love nothing better than to join them in this adventure that is life and see where we can journey together! To learn more about my way of working, see my posts.

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