Category Archives: Vocalizing

My theme song for 2020

Dear tuned-in parents – I talk a lot about having songs for your baby to transition from one thing to another. Diaper to new diaper. Clothes to pajamas. Awake to asleep.

Well, today’s Tuesday Tune-in is about a song for YOU to transition – from this year to next year. 

 

Your theme song is powerful.

 

It can be an acknowledgement of where you are. 

Example: Sara Bareilles’ “She Used to be Mine.” There was a time a couple of years ago when this was my theme song. Looking back on that time, I see that I was mourning a part of myself. The song helped me reconnect through some sadness and kindness to myself. 

 

It can be a motivator to keep going. 

Example: “Eye of the Tiger,” the Rocky theme song. In my twenties, I dated a grunge rocker/ snowboarder. He brought me to his home state of Vermont to learn how to snowboard myself and let’s just say I fell. A lot. On my head. But what I did have was a theme song. Every time I fell, I took a moment to absorb the pain and frustration. Then I found myself getting back up while singing quietly to myself, “Rising up, back on my feet…”

 

It can be anything that makes you feel like your truest self. 

Theme songs have always gotten me going. Not to say that they’re always happy and upbeat.  But they’re always honest. They always act as a reminder of what I need to grow.

 

The amazing part is that most likely your theme song is already playing in your head – as you go to sleep, take a pause in your day, do something that energizes you or something that you dread. 

 

Our mind is like a jukebox with a playlist of its own. And every now and then one record keeps spinning because it is the one we need to hear.

 

For me, for the beginning of this year, two songs have been playing on repeat in my head. Interestingly, they seem contradictory. But dammit – so is life.

 

The first is an oldie, Otis Redding’s masterpiece – “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay”. It reminds me to take it slow, enjoy the breeze, notice the view, and breathe. I think this was actually spurred by one of my sweet students who requested that I play the song in class. Since then its been at the top of my mind and the tip of my tongue every time I pick up the guitar.

 

The second is by 2019’s queen of self-empowerment for women – Lizzo. Her song “Good as Hell” reminds me to locate that little often forgotten voice inside me screaming – “I am the shit!”

 

So dear Tunester, as you plunge into a new beginning, what’s your song? 

 

We don’t need to pick out our theme song for the whole year because it will change many times. 

 

I’m suggesting that we pick out our theme song for these next couple of months. The beginning of the year is a special time. We all feel just a little bit more motivated to do our best, to turn a new leaf, to start a project or to kick old habits. 

 

So your homework this week is fun homework. 

 

On your commute, at home with your babies or on the treadmill; search through new songs and old songs and see what resonates with you. 

 

Having a theme song is like having a friend that reaches out of hand and picks you up when you need it or makes your step a little bit bouncier when it drags. 

 

The best possible scenario is for us all to share our theme songs together. It’s like sharing the lullabies that we use with our babies. It gives us ideas and opens our mind to directions we haven’t thought of.

 

Please share it in the comments so that we can all get ideas.

 

These things are always more fun together. Forward this to your friends and tell them you’ll share yours if they share theirs.

 

 

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

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I just did something awesome/crazy/scary

I’ve got some big news for you all and it deserves its own Tune In, not even on a Tuesday.

Do you have non-New Yorker friends or family who you wish could have taken my class with you?

Do you work 9-to-5and wish you could have taken my class if time was limitless?

Now. Everyone. Can.

After almost 10 years of classes, I’ve finally gone and done it: I’ve created a digital class!

 

The Baby in Tune Online Class

WHAT IS IT? A downloadable, six-week video series that teaches parents and babies how music can help them connect more deeply and joyfully.

As each parent self-navigates the curriculum, they also log in for weekly live meetings with myself and the group so we all develop a class community.

Participants also receive supporting materials from PDF instructions to song videos.

WHO IS IT FOR? Moms or dads with babies 0 to 12 months.

WHY DID I DO THIS? Two reasons.

To give parents who would otherwise not be able to take this type of class, access to the incredible connective power that music can have on a family.

Also, candidly, for me to be less tied to one city and open up the opportunity to travel with my family while still growing my passion project/business.

HOW DO I JOIN? Attend a FREE online workshop that will give you a taste of what we’ll cover in The Baby in Tune Online Class.

Registration for the Online Class will open Nov 6. Make sure to subscribe to my email list so you’re first to hear.

I think you know this but it’s worth restating: I really believe in what I teach.

I know that music is the perfect modality through which to connect to our babies.

It makes us instantly more present and more connected. I’ve felt this firsthand with my three babies and in class with you and your babies.

It’s a language we all understand. Babies included. And it’s a tool we can use to help our little ones feel soothed, sleepy, safe and happy.

And it’s just a lot of good fun.

Now I can share all of this knowledge with more parents. Cue happy dance!

You helped me hone my craft. So I turn to you first with this big news.

Share this with your pregnant friends!
Share this with your new-mom friends!
Share this with your second-time dad friends!
Share this with your cousin in Montana or your college friend in London.
Share this with your doula!
Share this with your prenatal yoga teacher!

I feel like you get the drift.

Share this with anyone who you think would appreciate the joy connecting to their baby with music. This is the perfect way to do it from the comfort of their own couch. Which is where this whole thing started anyway – with me singing to my first son on our little couch.

And now. All this. And more to come!

 

Love,

Vered

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I’m not a real musician

Today’s blog is about finding your musical creativity despite your limitations. You know, the self-diagnosed level of musical genius you do – or don’t – have.

Even more than that, today is about finding your musical creativity within and because of your limitations.

Many parents in my groups say that they are not musicians, that they don’t sing well, that they have a terrible voice, or that they can’t hold a note.

 

Here’s the thing: Your babies don’t care. And musicality is part nature – but it’s also part nurture. It can catch up with practice.

I know what it’s like to not think of yourself as a musician.

 

I’m not a musician if you ask me. I’m someone who brings music to families – my own and music in general, but I’ve got major imposter syndrome.

I feel this way partially because I got into music quite late.

I only picked up a guitar when I was 24 years old. I never got the classical training that others got in their childhood or the harmonic training that people got in college.

 

The truth is: I started to play guitar because I wanted to sing jazz songs. Okay, yea and because paying a jazz musician to accompany me was expensive.

And then I started to write songs because, well, jazz songs are really hard to play.

 

My music was born out of limitation.

That’s the secret to art in my opinion. All art and creativity are born out of some limitation. Creativity is making something out of what you’ve got. If we have too many options, then it’s overwhelming.

So it’s worthwhile to investigate what your limitations are and how you can play within them. Here are some common ones but ask yourself what your own limiting thoughts are. I bet they’ll come to you pretty easily.


Three Common Limitations

1. “I sing off key.” or “I can’t hold a note.”

If you feel you can’t sing in the melody of a song you may have heard songs sung off key growing up. Or, maybe more likely, you have not had enough practice doing it.

What’s required is to sing along with music – with others or alone, ALOT.

But you may have been told not to sing as a kid, which made you stop. Sadly, we often only need one person to tell us that we’re not a good singer to make us stop singing for good.

Either way, there’s a Snowball Effect. It just gets handed down through generations.

The kid becomes a parent and doesn’t sing to their kids and then those kids don’t get enough practice either.

Want to go a step further than singing along to Stevie Wonder? Get some singing lessons.

Sometimes it is about learning how to use certain muscles in our vocal cords so that we can match what we hear. Having someone else who can mirror back what we are singing in a supportive way can also help us become aware of the discrepancy between what our voice sounds like on the outside versus you’re hearing in our heads.

 

2. “I don’t have a good voice.”

Once again, this one has to do with what we were probably told as kids. Often it’s more related to the melody/key issue in the first limitation above.

But assuming you are singing on pitch and still believe you don’t have a good voice, then I give you all of these examples: Bob Dylan, Cyndi Lauper, Tina Turner, Elvis Costello, Bjork, Rickie Lee Jones, and ME.

My voice is a little raspy and always has been. When I was young I would sing with my cousin all the time. Her voice was smooth; she could hit all the high notes; and her singing seemed to flow like a cool stream of water.

Meanwhile, although I did have an ear for music and could sing harmonies, I got the message from those around me that my voice was not as pretty.

(In fact, when I remind my mother of this story now she cringes: When I was in sixth grade, I auditioned for a part in a musical. My mother suggested that I add some dance moves to my song because my voice “wasn’t my strong suit.”)

Here’s what I say to all of you who feel that your voice is not pretty – it’s exactly that “unprettiness” that makes it so unique. So please -continue singing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. “I’m not a musician.”

Okay, so this is a big one and I’ve already told you that I feel the same way. The good news is that it can be liberating. Knowing that you are not a musician means that you will not be trying to outdo any of the music out there that you love. It means that you’ve given yourself a pass.

Now let’s use that pass.

To you I would say: Why not try to pick up a ukulele or a guitar? All you need is three chords to play most songs out there. Since you are ‘not a musician’ you will never need to play them very well. You only need to play them well enough to have fun.

 

Have you spotted your limitation? Now, use it. 

Get creative as if you only had a candle, a roll of tape and a hairbrush to make it out of a locked room, Macgyver style. You would probably figure it out and find your way.

Here’s how I use my limitation:

I write songs that are in my key and that I can sing easily. They don’t have a wide range, they don’t have fancy twists and turns.

I also write songs that are fairly easy to play. They don’t have a lot of chord changes. And, when I am inspired, I learn some fancier ways to play to push me to write a particular song.

I write lyrics that I can fully relate to – about my life, my feelings, what I imagine my kids to be feeling. I write about what I know.

 

How can you use your limitations? Assuming that most of you are not planning to become professional musicians our task today is not to dwell on whether you may have the talent that will bring you to Carnegie Hall.

Our task is to find just the right amount of musicality to bring to your baby that is inspired by your limitation.

When you say “I don’t have a nice voice” or “I can’t sing on key,” see if you can use that in your music with your baby.

Write songs that fit your “pitchless” voice perfectly.

Show your baby the uniqueness of your voice. Trust me. She will love it more than any Bob Dylan or Adele.

 

So now tell me – How do you get creative in singing with a limitation? Only sing folk music and not pitch-changing pop? Add your unique raspiness to a chorus? Comment here and share with all of us non-musicians.

Got a friend who’s definitely said one of these limiting statements? Send him/her this blog so they know they’re not alone. They can sign up for it here:

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What’s so good about music, anyway?

Dear tuned-in parents,

As you know, I’m sold on music as a way to communicate with our babies.

Let’s say I’m a 10 out 10.

This Tuesday Tune-in is for any of you who are floating around a 6 out of 10.

Basically this is for those of you who are saying: “I feel like my baby responds to music but how can I be sure that it is the most effective way to soothe, play, enrich, and communicate with my baby?”

Today, I want to break it down so you can see why I’m a 10 out of 10 all the way.

Let’s start with the research. If you know me, you know that my background in psychology makes me quite the research lover/nerd.

Studies show babies who hear music respond to it, notice its patterns, prefer to be in sync with it, like it more than spoken words, sleep better with it, feel soothed by it and increase their language development.

Now, don’t just take my word for it. Read on to see what happened when these studies were performed…

 

1. Babies respond to music even before they are born.

While you were pregnant, you may have read some blogs telling you to put music headphones on your belly because your baby was listening. How do they know that? Because studies like this one in 2013 have shown that little ones remember the music that was played for them in utero.

Their responses were shown through heightened alertness, lower heart rate and fewer movements when they heard the music again.

 

2. Musical patterns and changes can be detected by babies.

This study is so cool. Our babies are little maestors.

Neuro research has shown that newborns could detect when a downbeat was missing from a drum pattern. You can see this by the change in brain activity during this 2009 study.

It means that babies possess a cognitive skill called beat induction, a uniquely human trait that allows us to detect and follow rhythmic patterns.

 

3. It’s not just adults that like moving to the rhythm.

You can dance, but you wonder – can your baby?

You’ve seen her kicking her legs and you could have sworn it was to the beat. Well it turns out it was.

A 2014 study shows that our babies are listening closely to the music around them and that they have a preference for being in sync with what they hear.

Not only that, they can MODIFY their movements according to the beat. WOW!

Another take away from this one-  Your baby prefers to be in sync with the external rhythm. So when you are bouncing your baby, she prefers you to bounce to the rhythm of a song .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Mama, dada: Don’t say it. Sing it.

Ever feel like your infant listens longer when you sing to her instead of speak to her?  This 2017 study proves you’re right.

It was performed with 6 to 10-month-olds and speculated that the reason might be that song holds more emotion and babies are aware of that.

I’d add that babies prefer to hear the voices that they heard in utero, which are yours.

 

4. Music helps babies sleep.

Preemie babies in the NICU who are given music interventions have been found to sleep better, according to this 2016 study.

 

5. Babies feel soothed by music.

I don’t have to tell you that this is significant. This is what we spend much of our days doing in different ways: Soothing baby.

This 2003 study shows that a mother’s singing to her babies has the power to regulate her babies emotions – to calm and soothe them.

 

6. Music makes us – babies and parents – happier.

This happens through the release of endorphins, both for the baby and us.

 

7. Playing & interacting with music improves language development.

Finally, studies like this 2012 one show that babies’ brains benefit from music lessons, even before they can walk and talk.

(And I know of a pretty great music lesson for babies you might want to try 🙂

 

So let’s recap.

  1. Our babies are born with a sensitivity to music. You could even say that music is innate. This is a uniquely human quality.
  2. Our babies can and prefer to be in sync with the music they hear. You could say but our babies are born with an ability and a love to dance to music.
  3. Our babies prefer hearing us sing rather than speak. This is matters If you are thinking about the best way to communicate with your baby it’s going to be through melody rather than speech.
  4. Our babies feel happier when they hear music.
  5. Our babies feel soothed when they are sung to.
  6. Our babies improve language development through music.

 

That’s why I’m a 10 out of 10 when it comes to my confidence in music being the best way to connect with your baby.

But that’s not all!

The benefits that apply to your baby with music also apply to you.

We also feel regulated when we hear music. It can make us feel happier as well as calmer. And you already know that a happier and calmer parent makes for a happier and calmer baby.

 

I’ll leave you with this quick visualization:

Imagine you were saying to your baby, “I love you, now go to sleep.”

Now imagine you’re singing it: ” I love you, now go to sleep.”

Be honest. Is the second version more emotional? More soothing? More connected to your baby?

 

If the answer is yes, then you know exactly you are on the right path. That a musical journey with your baby is a beautiful way forward.

Play devil’s advocate for me. Why else do you feel less than 10 out of 10 in using music to connect with your baby? Comment so I don’t think everyone thinks like me!

Know another research lover/nerd? Send them this post and make their data-filled days.
They can sign up for the Tuesday Tune In right here:

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Your music is within you. Your baby wants to hear it.

Dear tunies,

Today’s post is a reminder to you that – even though it might not always seem this way – your music is within you. Now let’s figure out how to get it out.

Why? Because your baby wants to hear it. Pinky swear.

 

It might surprise you to hear this but I didn’t sing immediately with my first baby.  As someone who teaches parents how to use music with their babies, I imagine you think I sang with my baby from Day One.

Perhaps you imagine me as Julie Andrews, walking around the house dancing and smiling while caring for my calm baby.

 

Well, guess what? For a while after I had my first baby, I didn’t sing a note.

 

I distinctly remember sitting on the bed with two breast pumps attached to me, feeling tired, frustrated, irritable and like a milk machine. We had trouble with the latch, which meant that I did a lot of pumping and when I tried to feed I was in excruciating pain.

 

I remember looking over to see my husband giving our baby a bottle. He sang a sweet song while he did it rocking gently. When the baby was done drinking, my husband picked him up and sang as he walked around the house trying to get him to burp.

 

Here I was, reduced to the most basic bodily function (that barely functioned) while my husband seemed to be sitting on a private magical cloud with our baby.

 

It was the sweetest scene. And it pissed me off.

 

It took me a while for my music to come out of me with my baby.

 

It’s surprising, I know. But it’s true. So, if you haven’t found your music yet with your baby, then I know how you feel. And I have faith that you will. Even now, I lose my music with my kids every now and then. That’s when you can find me walking around doing tasks far away from rainbows and sparkles.

Sing With Me onesie (Baby in Tune)

 

So how do we find the music within us?

  1. Give it time.

As I watched my husband with my baby, I needed to know that I, too, would find my music with my son in my own time.

 

  1. Connect to music that holds the most emotion for YOU.

Usually, that’s music you heard when you were a little younger – whether it’s from college, high school, grade school or younger. The music that holds emotion for us will reconnect us to the music that’s within us.

 

  1. Start small and hum

Try humming softly to your baby. Maybe it’s a lullaby, a song that you love, or a song that you’re making up. Noone else needs to hear.

 

  1. Notice the effect it has on your baby.

One day, I found that every time I started to sing with my daughter she immediately started to sing along. Even if she didn’t know the song or the lyrics, she sang along with me as if she did. She just wanted to sing with me. She didn’t care what.

 

  1. Breathe deeply and use your full voice.

We try not to sing with that small insecure part of our voice that has listened to judgments from the past because that will make our body tense up even more. Now things are different. We have an unconditionally loving audience. Now we sing from our belly.

 

  1. Put on music during moments we would normally forget to enjoy.

Like washing dishes, making dinner, soothing our baby, or cleaning the house. You may already be putting music on during moments you love, like morning or bathtime. But we need to remember to locate our music during those moments that we go a little zombie, too. That will remind us that music enlivens us.

 

  1. Channel YOUR own inner Julie Andrews.

Try crooning in the shower or skipping to get a diaper while singing with a sly smile. Find the free and playful part of our voice because you’ll realize that now is the time not only to find your own music but to show your baby that she can find hers, too.

 

  1. Take music classes with your baby & be reminded to sing together.

We can learn how best to use our voice and which rhythms our baby responds to in class. In this space, it’s easy to watch your baby respond naturally to the music. (I won’t say which I think is best for this exact task…)

 

  1. Bring the music to your partner.

We imagine a day when the whole family will be sitting in the car singing a song together. Even though it’s in the future we can almost see it as a memory we cherish. Make it real by sharing your playlist with your partner today.

 

Believe me: You have inner music.  It’s there. For all of us. Even if sometimes it feels like it’s not. It’s not silly to try these one at a time. Enjoy the experiment and I think you’ll surprise yourself when you start to find your groove.

 

What brings out your inner music most for you? Is it when you’re cooking, showering, lullabying or something else? Comment and share your experience. Was it like mine or completely different?

 

Know a parent with inner music? That was a trick question: Everyone has it. But it may take a little nudge to find it. So send this post to them all!

 

 

Yes! Please send me more of the Tuesday Tune-In!


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I bet I know your baby’s first word (& here’s why)

Hi, you! I see you doing the hard work of prioritizing tuning into your baby. With all the time you spend down on the floor with her gazing at her tiny lips and toes, you’ve probably cherished some of her tiny sounds, too. These tiny sounds turn into big babbles (and eventually, yes, demands for bananas or croissants).

That’s why I’ve dedicated this Tuesday Tune-In to taking a closer look at how babies learn to speak and what we can do to encourage it even more.

 

The short version? Add more music to your speech.

 

Now let’s figure out how to do that.

 

Breaking down language

Basically language is culturally agreed-upon sounds that symbolize concepts. An intricate part of these sounds is the syncopation and melody of them.

 

For instance: Think about how you say the word “computer.” We instinctively use this word all the time but we don’t think about all the musical elements but go into it. We put stress on the second syllable of the word. This creates a kind of melody. We start with a low note; we go up to a higher note; and we end on a note that is lower than the first. We also syncopate this word. Meaning we hold slightly longer on the middle syllable.

 

With our babies, we are even more musical with our speech.

 

It’s called parentese, baby.

Or motherese, depending on who you talk to. What is it? It’s how caregivers across cultures speak to their babies in a certain sing-songy speech that is reserved for their baby.

 

Don’t think you do it? Think again.

 

Parentese is a reality – even if we promised ourselves we would never use that high-pitched voice before we had kids, we still do it. That’s because when we use higher pitches in speech to our baby they become more alert and engaged. In fact, we often do it in the shape of a bell curve. We start lower go up higher and come back down. Think about how you might say “Hi” to your baby. It probably isn’t a deadpan “Hi.” It probably follows the shape mentioned above: “hiiiIIIiiii.”

 

Do you greet your partner when they come in the door like that? Hell no. But you do when you see your baby after not seeing her for a while.

 

Similarly, when we soothe our babies we are also sing-songy. Our voice tends to fall. It starts higher and goes slower. Think of how you say, “It’s okay.” Now think of that voice you use when you are pissed at your kid. That’s when we use a flat tone. Kind of robot like. As if to say, “I mean business kid.”

 

Words with melody are easier to learn

Speaking in our sing-songy way doesn’t only helps our babies be more engaged. It also helps our babies learn words faster than they might if we spoke to them the way we speak with other adults.

 

Case in point:  My daughter’s first word was “Diaper.” That’s because whenever I said it I always started low and ended on a higher note. Think of the “die” in a low voice, and the “per” in almost a squeaky voice. I didn’t do it intentionally.  It just came out that way every time I said “Should we go find your diaper?” or “Do we need to change your diaper?” it probably had a lot to do with the fact that I usually said it in the form of a question.

 

When she first said the word, she didn’t say it with the correct consonants. She first said it with the correct melody. In fact she even said, “ba ba?” I knew she was saying diaper because she used the same tones even if she didn’t use the same consonants.

 

My son’s first word was “Uh oh.” Same thing there. We tend to sing “Uh oh.” We start on a higher note and end on a lower note. It’s part of our language to sing that word.

 

Our babies, first and foremost, pick up on the musicality of language, according to a 2012 psychology report. There are a few reasons for this. First, it repeats in the the same way every time. Because we say “Uh oh” in the same melody each time, our babies can latch onto it and practice it. Second: Our babies are tuned in to dynamics. They are looking for contrast in melody and become more alert when we are more musical with our speech.

 

So what can we do to help our babies along with language acquisition? A few things:

 

 

How to encourage language acquisition

 

  1. Keep doing what you’re doing. And talking how you’re talking.

You are already speaking to your baby in a sing songy way without even realizing it. Now that you are aware of it, you can accentuate that even more. You can also feel proud that you are tuned in to what your baby needs from you.

 

  1. Reduce some of your sentences to one-or two-word sentences.

This will help your baby pick up on the melody of the words without complicating it with the whole sentence. For instance: You can say: “Eat food?” or just “Food?” when you are about to give your baby food  or “Stroller” when you are about to put them into the stroller.

 

  1. Use the same melody for certain words.

For many words, you are already doing this. Notice those. For some words you might be changing the melody of each time, see if you can decide on one melody and stick with it for a while. For instance, with the word “Bottle”.

 

 

This week, notice how your baby is tuned into music even when we think that there isn’t music involved. Like little musicians, their ears are picking up on subtle shifts in our melody.

 

See? You might already be singing much more than you think.

 

Tell me: Was your baby’s first word something you said a certain way? If your baby doesn’t talk yet, what word do you think might be their first based on how you say it? Comment below and let’s see what tops “Uh oh” and “Diaper”!

 

Know a parent who can’t help speak in parentese? Or one that swore not to? Send them both this blog! Tell them to sign up for more great tips below.

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