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Developmental benefits of participating in music making

Vicky Abad
September 1, 2016

I was recently having a conversation with the lovely Lah-Lah about music making and the incredible and amazing benefits children experience when they are immersed in a live musical environment.

There are so many wonderful things happening when kids experience music live, so let’s start with the obvious.

The many developmental benefits for children when they participate in music making of any kind is well documented

What excites me (and drives Boppin’ Babies) is to let children to experience making and participating in live music. When children make music their little brains light up and neurotransmitters fly, and each part of their brain is actively engaged.  Their little bodies move to the music.

In a Boppin’ Babies music group children don’t just dance or play or sing along to music, they actually make music in sync with another person. This is when the magic happens… Being in sync is hard when the music is recorded because little people can’t change their rhythms to match yet.

When an experienced and highly trained musician plays live music they will feed off their audience (if you are Lah-Lah) or off the children (if you are me!) and let them set the pace of the experience. Music making can be a partnership and as professional music therapists we support this so that it is not only with us but with the parent too.

When a child is immersed in the highest quality live music (and they get to make it with you) they get to make magic

As parents you are already highly tuned to your little ones. Music helps you really hone in on this and provides a way you can share a really beautiful moment together.

Have a look at this video and see if you can see the magic for yourself. There is the beautiful dancing and clear joy this little one experiences when moving to music. But there is more – see how she watches me closely and stops with me, we share an anticipatory moment (Shhhh) and a giggle… then we start together and we are off on a live music journey!!

She is very excited and moves faster. I play faster too. I match her rhythm or entrain to her and the whole group moves as one. Notice too how she looks back at mum. Are you watching? Can you see me? Mum is taking delight in this beautiful moment and bub is loving sharing this experience with her.

While it looks beautiful and simple the art and science going on here is quite extraordinary. Her little brain is lighting up! She is working on emotional, social and physical goals (as we have just discussed) but also her language centre, sensory centres and motor planning centres of the brain are also actively involved in this magical moment.

Add to that the joy and happy hormones associated with this and the pure love shared with her Mum (the looking back) and you have the perfect moment for magic.

So many things happening at once and all while learning and growing through music!

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