Going for a Song
Shared singing with a carer with whom a child is securely attached is an important learning resource, says Anne O’Connor…
Orson (age two) is sitting at the table with his mother. He is fascinated by spiders and loves singing songs about them, especially if they are scary. He is very familiar with the rhyme ‘Insey Winsey Spider’ and there is a toy spider on the table in front him.
He focuses on mum’s face and mirrors what she is doing with her fingers. He sings along, and although some of his words are indistinct, he is engrossed in behaving as a ‘singer’. The words with most emphasis and repetition are the ones he is able to sing accurately. Mum and Orson maintain eye contact all the time and their facial expressions both show high levels of involvement.
1 It might be hard to believe for some of us, but we are all born musical. The urge to sing is innate and babies begin to experiment with their voice from their earliest sounds.
Being sung to is something that most of us experience very early on in our lives, because singing to babies seems to comes easily and spontaneously – and is rewarded with smiles and rapturous attention, regardless of whether or not we have sung in key and can remember all the words. This seems to be common in all cultures, and because it is universal we can assume that music and singing have important evolutionary and biological links with human learning and development.
Our brains seem to be wired to respond to music, even when there is profound hearing loss. This seems also to be linked with the instinctive way that adults often speak to babies and young children, which is known as ‘parentese’ and is recognisable by its ‘sing-song’ inflection and pitch. The high-pitched sound and its specific acoustic qualities seem to be just right for a baby’s ears…
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Article written by Anne O’Connor and published in Nursery World © www.nurseryworld.co.uk