By Maxine Fisher M. Ed., MTA(Music Therapist Accredited) RCC (Registered Clinical Counsellor)
We all experience stress. As parents we are often challenged beyond anything we ever imagined. We have all developed ways to cope over the years, and those coping mechanisms can cause more stress. Most of us are on automatic, moving through a list of never ending tasks. Is there a solution?
I believe it is possible to add new more effective strategies to our ways of coping. One way that might be helpful is to use music. We all have a favorite song or type of music that brings us to a different place. For adults, we can choose a song and take a mini vacation from the daily stresses. The key here is to stop the automatic coping and make time for yourself. Easier said than done, but as soon as you do this you may find that you resume your daily activities with more energy.
When exposed to music, infants may participate in a variety of ways including movement, eye contact with the caregiver, vocalizations and simple relaxation. Music and movement are linked. Toddlers respond to, and actively engage in, music with sounds as well as movement. Therefore, any music aimed at young children could include some movement to increase participation.
Children understand emotional messages through music. Choose a song your child likes and sing it with them while you hold them in your arms, or dance with them, and you may discover the joy that music brings to you and your child. What are the musical preferences of your children? It may depend on their mood. Try presenting the same song in different ways. Pick a song you are familiar with such as “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”. You could sing it with a high pitch, then try a lower pitch. You could sing it fast, and then slowly. You could add a rock and roll beat with a tambourine or kitchen pot. You can sing it like a lullaby, soft and gently. Notice how your child responds to each different version.When do they look away? When do they turn towards you and vocalize, sing or dance?
For children and families, the possibilities of using music to unite, express feelings and experience joy are endless. I would love to hear about how you and your family use music. It would be great to share what we know with other families. Write away!