‘Old King Cole was a merry old soul…’ Why the Royal baby, like other babies, needs music and song in its life…
By Emma B | July 11, 2013
By Caroline Crabbe, General Manager at Jo Jingles (www.jojingles.com)
Having a baby is a momentous occasion for any woman; having a baby that will one day become King or Queen must be mind-blowing to say the least! The physical and emotional changes you undergo as a first-time mum are enough to challenge even the most confident, prepared person; but add to that the constant media attention, the overwhelming public interest and everything that goes with the Royal title, it’s easy to see how this whole event could also be hugely daunting, amidst the natural excitement of course.
There are many great learning activities that are of benefit to a young baby during the early years and regular exposure to music and singing is certainly one of them. But if we look at all of the traditional traits that are expected from any member of the Royal family, it’s quite uncanny just how many of these can be linked to the developmental benefits that are associated with music.
Actively taking part in singing or playing a musical instrument are both amazing tools for stimulating a child and increasing their early years’ development across a range of areas. There is already a large body of evidence to support the idea that interactive musical activities are very beneficial for young children even pre-birth. Kate Middleton was herself alleged to have been playing music by Adele and Ellie Goulding to her unborn baby during the first trimester of her pregnancy and what’s good enough for Royalty…
So, what about some of the key traits of a Royal?
* Confidence – to lead, to inspire, to make regular public appearances
* Social skills – meeting people all over the world, interacting with real people
* Language and speech – not necessarily learning other languages but the ability to communicate at many different levels, make public speeches etc.
* Emotions – to understand when to show emotion and when to conceal it, how to express moods and feelings etc.
How this relates to music, singing and movement
Singing itself is thought to be an evolutionary step. As primates we developed vocal sounds into song and from that came language. If you watch a mother with her new baby she does seem to sing to her baby at a pace slower than speech. This is sometimes called ‘motherese’. The sentences will sound ‘sing-songy’ and with good reason, as this helps the baby to recognise the rhythm and sounds that it will use to develop language skills. By pronouncing the word more slowly the sounds are clearer to an ear that is trying to “tune in”.
The benefits of encouraging an infant’s language skills can be boosted with nursery rhymes. Most of us instinctively understand that babies and toddlers react positively to us when we sing songs to them, but what we may not fully appreciate is how those endless repetitions of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” are a fundamental part of our child’s mental, physical and social development, helping to “wire up” their brains ready for speech development.
Some people believe that exposing a child to music will increase their intelligence and although this is not proven, what musical activities and singing can do is to help develop the processes that will give a child the tools it needs to investigate the world, which will be vital for the Royal baby – such as language, creativity and developing strong social skills.
To generate maximum benefit from music, it should also be accompanied with movement in the early years of a child’s development. This is why so many nursery rhymes come complete with a set of ‘actions’ ‘I’m a little teapot’ or ‘If you’re happy and you know it’ for example. Children can express themselves through movement long before they can verbalise and the Royal infant will be no different. They also need to learn to hone their sense of balance and to control their limbs. Learning where the limbs are and how to control them can be aided with music and movement. For example, playing a percussion instrument a very young child can be assisted to shake a maraca, the child hears and senses vibration of the maraca in their hand. As time progresses the child learns to grasp and shake the maraca and has learnt that the hand is actually part of his/her body. Movement to music has also been shown to help a child express feelings and moods as they learn to interpret the music that they hear – again, another trait that will be important to understand and control for the future heir to the throne.
It is clear that music and movement aid a child’s development even before they are born. As humans, we are born with an innate musical ability; we hear rhythm of heartbeats and tones of voice before we are born. This ability is developed through our childhood to enable us to learn to communicate and socialise and the Royal baby will benefit hugely from honing these skills. As such, children that part take in regular musical activities whether at home (in a castle!) or in a group/class do tend to develop language and social skills and are more confident at an earlier stage than those who don’t.
Music also builds and strengthens bonds of trust and communication between adults and children and involving the Royal baby in musical sessions will help to encourage his/her self-expression and confidence which will make all the difference later in life when it comes to making public appearances and leading by example. The Royal baby certainly has a very busy and dutiful life ahead of him/her, but we certainly hope that the child’s life will benefit early on, from the sound of music.
About Jo Jingles (www.jojingles.com)
Jo Jingles provides music, singing and movement experience classes for babies and pre-school children from three months to five years of age. With nationwide sessions in more than 700 centres across the UK and Ireland and with over 90 franchisees, Jo Jingles offers well-established, structured classes that are fun, interactive and educational for little ones.
Launched in 1991, Jo Jingles continues to promote learning through music across many of the UK’s nurseries, Sure Start Children’s Centres, playgroups and mother & toddler groups. Jo Jingles Birthday parties and celebrations are also available to book and a range of musical-themed merchandise including toys, CDs and musical instruments can be purchased online at www.jojingles.com.
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