Did you know that your tone of voice can have a direct impact on your baby’s emotional state?
I’m going to show you a video that illustrates this in a surprising way. But first, let’s talk TONE.
Tell me if this has ever happened to you – You meet someone new and something about the tone of their voice or the musicality of how they speak makes you feel uneasy. You find yourself clawing for an escape or an alibi.
Maybe you also have a distant aunt who yell/speaks in a high pitched voice about the rugellah? (Or maybe it’s just me?)
So what is tone? It’s the way the air flows through our vocal chords. It is the COLOR of our voice. And Intonation is the MELODY in our voice.
Our babies don’t speak our language yet, so all of the information they are getting is through our tone, intonation, and rhythm (the syncopation that naturally occurs in our words and sentences.)
Those of you who have taken Baby in Tune classes know that we spend quite a bit of time learning how to make your tone of voice more resonant and more soothing for your baby.
We do this in a few ways:
By taking deep breaths between phrases.
By using the muscles at the bottom of our abdomen.
By making the voice deeper and creating more vibration.
By relaxing other parts of the body like shoulders, neck, hips.
By letting the jaw fall open.
Try this tonight: As you are singing your lullaby notice how your body feels. Try taking in deeper breaths from the bottom of your lungs, filling the sides as well. Relax your jaw, relax your shoulders. See if you feel a difference as you are singing. See if your body relaxes and if your baby calms more easily.
When we sing or speak without the support of our breath and abdomen we tend to feel tense, especially in our throat. And when that happens it doesn’t matter how many times we cycle through Twinkle Twinkle, our baby isn’t going to feel soothed.
There are research studies like this one or this one illustrating how babies listen closely and respond to tone.
But I also had my three subjects at home. In this video you’ll see something surprising that happened with my daughter when she was two months old.
It all began when I started singing a silly ditty I had made up:
“I could watch your eyebrows all day…”
I know. There’s a reason it never made it onto an album. But go with me because what happened next was the surprising part.
I started to sing an improvised melody with the vowel sounds Ah and Oo.
As she listened my daughter increasingly got VERY sad. She seemed to be responding directly to the shift in the music.
I wanted to be sure her mood shifts had to do with the music and not something else so I went back and forth between the eyebrow song and the haunting melody.
I was shocked to find that each time I sang the haunting melody my daughter’s lower lip jutted out, her eyes got red and wet, and her eyebrows went down. She was about to cry!
Elton John can only dream about such an attentive and responsive audience!
I was so intrigued by her response. Her mood seemed to shift as a result of the shift in the music:
So here’s what we can learn from this video and what I’m hoping you’ll take away from today’s post:
Our babies are listening to our tone, melody, rhythm very closely.
They are so sensitive to the EMOTION we convey in our tone.
We can change our tone to make them feel more calm, more soothed and happier.
Just as our baby is watching us closely, we can watch them closely and learn their preferences and behaviors.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the video. How do you interpret my daughter’s reactions? Obviously this is not a controlled science experiment so interpretation is up for grabs. Let me know!
Also, have you noticed your baby’s preferences for certain songs? Tone? Rhythm? Please COMMENT below and let me know.
Do you have a friend who would be interested in learning about how to make her tone, intonation and rhythm more soothing for her baby? Forward this post to her and tell her to join a Baby in Tune class ASAP!
I’m in the back of a brown Buick station wagon gazing out at the endless wheat fields outside my window. Did I have a seat belt on? Probably not. We’re on a road trip and it’s my dad’s turn to pick the music. Willie Nelson is crooning and I’m rolling my eyes. Another hour until I get to listen to the Muppet Show for the 56th time.
Now I’m on a road trip with my own kids traveling to the same Bryce and Zion playing that same Stardust album. I appreciate his nonchalant delivery and elegant productions but it’s more than that. My eyes tear while I listen to it.
I wonder – am I so moved because these songs encapsulate this journey, from child to mother, from one side of the US to the other? Or is it the music itself that I can now appreciate as an adult?
Probably both. Willie Nelson is Willie Nelson. AND my father instilled in me a connection to this music. He felt it strongly and he passed it down.
Now it’s my kids in the back asking- “do we have to hear that again?”
Wait till they’re older…
Music collapses time. It brings the past viscerally into the present. Because it’s stored in a different region of our brain than memories, it activates parts of our brain that bring back our sense-memory of an experience.
Have you ever heard a song from your childhood and feel like you are back on a swing with your cousin, or at that party in highschool with your friend, or in the delivery room with your new baby? Music brings back memories with all five senses. Suddenly we can smell the salty ocean, taste that margarita, feel the brand new skin of our baby.
Why do I bring this up now? Because this is the time to tap into this.
We’re in that magical time between the holidays that brings anticipation, excitement, and an unwinding of the year. And boy do we need it this year.
But this time it’s very different. We aren’t gathering, and that really sucks. But as always with Covid, there is a silver lining.
Because of the physical distance from our families we’re left to remember past years and cherish what we once took for granted. Have you been thinking back to last Christmas when everyone woke up together? Or a few years ago when your family sang Haunuka songs together?
We have more time to ponder what we really want holidays to look like for our young families. We can take a moment to recall the traditions that run in our family, be intentional about continuing the good ones, resurrecting others, and tossing some out completely.
This year is the perfect time to tap into our collective family musical memory for three reasons:
Our memories are being evoked.
We’re feeling more emotional this year.
You’re building your young family.
So I’ve been thinking…what if we use our awkward and contrived Zoom family get-togethers to explore the traditions of our family more deeply?
Have you ever asked your grandma or parent what music was sung to them when they were little? Or what songs they remember their parents singing at the holidays?
NOW is the time to conjure up these memories. Every moment that goes by is an opportunity for the older generation to forget. I don’t know about you but my “mom brain” is here to stay. My memory is about as useful as a Momaroo. So I can’t imagine what memories are still rattling around in our parents’ heads. We have to get to them asap!
For this year’s family Zoom get together I propose you take some time to explore your family playbook, remember your family traditions, and bring the past into your baby’s future.
You know I wouldn’t suggest this if I didn’t try it myself. This morning my cousins, aunt, mother and I got together on Zoom and reminisced about the music passed down through the generations of our family.
I found out that most of their family music memories weren’t from holidays rather from singing in the car. My grandfather had a knack for remembering (or making up, we’ll never know,) silly nonsensical songs that are etched into our memories like graffiti on a camp bunk bed.
I also found out that my cousin in law’s family sings Christmas carols together before their meal while drinking eggnog. And the best part? They have a playbook with all the lyrics!
So this year let’s make sticky lemonade out of rotten lemons and work on creating our family’s playbook.
Instead of letting that one family member monopolize your Zoom call while everyone else feels awkward, or only talking about what the kids are up to, why not seize the moment and have a conversation that will impact your baby’s future and holidays to come?
I’ve got a new offering for people who would like me to facilitate this exciting meeting(email me if you want to get more details on that.)But I want to give you a starter kit of questions to bring to your family.
Caution – as always when we dive into memories, this could bring up some STUFF. Along with the fuzzy images of family may also come the harsher ones. You or other family members may feel emotional during the conversation. That’s OK. Tread lightly. Go as far as your collective memory will allow without people spiraling into a dark place. Or, if you can, go there and come back together through song.
Here are some questions that you can ask your parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins, and siblings in your family Zoom meeting:
What songs were sung to you when you were a baby/kid?
What songs do you remember being played when you were a kid?
When you think of holidays with your family when you were a kid, what is a song you think of most?
What are your favorite holiday traditions that you used to do with your parents and family?
What traditions did you want to make sure to pass on to us?
And questions for you and your partner:
What songs do we want to bring to our baby’s holiday experience?
What family traditions do we want to pass on?
What family traditions do we want to toss?
I would love to know what you think about this idea, if you’ll do it, and how it goes when you do. Please COMMENT below.
And if you’d like to book a one time family session with me, I can’t wait. Email me here: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you have a friend who needs some encouragement this holiday season? Send them this blog and tell them to sign up for more:
When we first started mapping out our year-long road trip, there was one place I felt we had to go despite the fact that it would mean a dip south before we head north – Nashville.
On our way there we prepared. We listened to John Denver as we went through the Blue Ridge Mountains, and Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Willie Nelson and Tammy Wynette through Tennessee.
We also listened to a podcast episode by Malcolm Gladwell in which he breaks down why he thinks country music makes us cry MORE than pop music. The secret ingredient, he says, is that the writers of country music aren’t afraid to sing about heavy topics. And when they do, they aren’t afraid to be specific.
They don’t just sing about suicide, divorce, murder, addiction, and betrayal. They do it by painting a DETAILED personal picture.
For instance check out this opening lyric by Kris Krisstoferson:
“Busted flat in Baton Rouge, headin’ for a train / Feelin’ nearly faded as my jeans”
We can almost see the guy sitting at the station.
Or how about these lyrics by Bobby Braddock in a song Gladwell talks about in the episode:
“He kept her picture on his wall, went half-crazy now and then He still loved her through it all, hoping she’d come back again Kept some letters by his bed dated nineteen sixty-two He had underlined in red every single “I love you””
Again, the lyrics are almost cinematic. And the reason we can see the picture so clearly is because of the details – the year, the underlined letters.
Gladwell compares the top country songs of all time to the top rock and roll songs which are not nearly as sad or specific. The saddest song on the list is “the tracks of my tears,” which is about a guy at a party who’s feeling sad. There’s no suicide, murder or divorce in those songs, just the general heartbreak.
Where am I going with all this? I think we can learn from it.
Those of you who have taken my class have already been in a songwriting workshop. You know that as parents of babies you are only a short step away from writing a song with your baby. The way you naturally speak to your baby is already so melodic. All that’s missing is some repetition, and voila! It’s a song!
(if you haven’t taken the class yet you’ll be shocked to find out how easy writing a song with your baby is. Come try it!)
But let’s take our songwriting skills a step further today by borrowing a page from country music.
I wonder if we can do two these things when we write our next ditty with our baby:
Let the emotions flow. I am talking all of it. You’re feeling frustrated? Put it in the song. You’re feeling sad? Put it in the song. Feeling angry at your baby? Sing it, baby.
Let’s be specific. Talk about the birth mark on your baby’s left cheek, or about the way your baby says the word Banana, or about the color of their poop. Paint a portrait of YOUR baby, and of YOUR relationship.
When I started writing songs in my 20s I quickly came to the same conclusion Gladwell does. I realized that the more personal songs were, the more universal they felt.
That became my mantra. I didn’t want to write general lines like “you make me feel sad,” I wanted to create a distinct picture with details. And every time I manage to do that (I’m not saying it’s easy), it surprises me how people actually DO identify.
Take this song for instance. Maybe the only song in the world with the word “computer” in it?
“When you go to sleep I go on the computer and just for a moment I am something other than a mom. On the weekends I try to go to a yoga class if by some miracle I’m Something other than a mom”
When I wrote that song I felt like I was the only one on the computer trying to feel like ME again. Or desperately racing away to go to a yoga class, on the way brushing my hand across my belly trying to feel for the body that was once there. But every time I sing this song in class, I pick up my head to find someone crying.
Now, I’m not saying you’re setting off to write the next country hit or Madison Square Garden anthem. But I am saying this:
If you give it a go, and try to write a song using details that only you, your baby, and your partner know, you may just come out with your own private masterpiece. It may be the song that lives on in the lore of your family, The song your son sings to his friends at college to illustrate how silly his folks were, and the song that your daughter sings lovingly to her baby, as she gets inspired to write her own.
And now, I’ll move this oven hot computer off my thighs, I’ll forgive myself for having had a lot more extra bites of that salted caramel ice cream, I’ll put on my mom cape, and read three SEPARATE books to three kids because they can’t all goddam agree on one.
See? Details 🙂
So what do you think? Will you try it? COMMENT and let us know if you’re inspired to croon about your baby’s freckle.
Do you have a friend who needs some inspiration for her next baby ditty? Send her this post! And tell her to sign up for more.
Guys, summer is finally here. And although Rona might not be going anywhere anytime soon, it’s time for us to move around a bit and get out there and explore. Safely, physically distanced, of course.
Grab your map and sunglasses, or rather your Waze, Cheddar Bunnies, apple slices, water bottle, sunscreen, lovey, paci, books, mask, and a whole lotta patience, and let’s do this.
In our family we torture our kids by making them sit in the car without any screens whatsoever. Can you imagine those poor tender youthlings with nothing to do but stare out the window?
I know. It’s modern day torture.
But gosh darnit the car is our time to sing together, listen together, learn and explore, and I’m not about to give that up.
So this week I’m solving for one part of your car ride equation. Behold the ultimate family road trip playlist.
It’s got Kindie, grown up, mine, and anything that I think feels like the top down and the wind in our hair.
Before you go ahead and listen, or maybe even while you listen, here is a quick recap of what you’ll find.
1.Movin’ Right Along from The Muppet Movie
When I was about 6 my parents took us on a road trip. I think we listened to the Muppet Movie Soundtrack 1,257 times. This song was our fave. There was no way I was about to do a road trip playlist without it.
2. Through the Woods by the Okee Dokee Brothers
These guys are the explorers of the Kindie (kid indie) scene. They explore nature like I explore family dynamics. Each of their albums takes you to a different nature landscape. And they’ve got a great vibe too. You might recognize Justin Lansing’s voice from my song More of a Baby.
3. Lovely Day by Bill Withers.
Something about Bill Withers has always touched me to the core. His effortless voice, no frills singing, and good vibe yet profound songs.
4. Unhurried Journey by Elena Moon Park
Elena was once a part of Dan Zane’s kids band before she went off to do her own thing. It’s a good thing she did because her music is beautiful. This is from her new album and Elizabeth Mitchell joins her on this title track.
5. It’s My Mother and My Father and My Sister and My Dog by Barry Louis Polisar
You probably know Barry from the song All I Want is You on the Juno Soundtrack. But besides writing a kick ass movie title track he is also a kindie pioneer and this song is pretty entertaining.
6. Coniferous Trees by Molly Ledford and Billy Kelly
I’ve told y’all about this album before. I love it. It’s all about trees and its done so tastefully with humor, educational details, and beautiful melodies and production by Dean Jones. I particularly love this one. It’s like we are in the studio with them as they sing it.
7. You’ve Got a Friend in Me by Micheal Buble
Obviously this is a Randy Newman song and we all know and love it from Toy Story. But I felt compelled to add this version. Michael Buble is just so ridiculously perfect in his vocals. As much as I try to hate him, I really do love him. He always sounds easy going and upbeat and his singing makes me smile.
8. Rosie Darling by Joanie Leeds
If you make it all the way to the end without a bathroom accident, trantrum, fight with partner, or wrong turn I want to hear about it. I’ll send you a Vered shirt. Seriously. But if you do you’ll make it to this lovely song by my friend Joanie Leeds. This is from her new album produced by friend Lucy Kalantari.
So let’s do this. Let’s pile into the car, even if just to head from one side of town to the other, and play some tunes that will inspire, tickle, move, and groove.
What are your favorite road trip tunes? Please share them below.
Do you know someone in need of a good road trip playlist? Share this with them and they will be forever grateful. And tell them to sign up for future Tune Ins too.
It’s been a week to end all weeks. I know we all feel raw, emotional, fragile, and scared. For ourselves. For our children. For the future. But I can feel change on the horizon. Can’t you? It keeps my hope alive.
It’s taken a lot to shake our country to its core: a pandemic that sent us into our homes indefinitely, caused financial insecurity for so many, and disproportionately affected the black community. And on top of that, another tragic, unnecessary death of a black American.
We don’t have our regular trips to the market, days at work or pick-ups from daycare, to distract us from what is bubbling up in our country and in ourselves. And we get it (most of us). We feel it deeply.
This country needs to change NOW.
In today’s post I’m not going to give you a list of books for kids, or ways to educate yours. I know you can find that stuff elsewhere and you should.
What I can offer you is a new song to help you open the conversation with your kids.
It wasn’t easy to write it. It’s not perfect. But we’re all learning how to talk about this, how to understand the experience of our black neighbors, and most of all: how to take action.
The other day I opened the topic of race with my 11 year old. He said “I’m afraid to talk about it with friends because I’m scared I’ll say something racist.”
Oh man. That hit me hard. Not just because it is sad to hear that he doesn’t feel he can talk about it but because I identified. I know he is expressing what so many of us feel all the time: What’s the right thing to say to be supportive but not accidentally offend?
A couple of days later he told me a story I had never heard: a few years earlier he had said the “N” word at school. He didn’t know what it meant and was using it out of context. I’m not sure where he had even heard it to begin with. His teacher immediately reacted, brought the vice principal who spoke to the whole class about the matter. My son understood the gravity of it. He also felt ashamed to the point where he didn’t even tell me about it later.
So there you have point A leading to point B.
Here’s a kid who was curious, did not harbor judgment, and was misinformed. Immediately, due to the systemic issues in our country he got the feeling that he should never broach the topic.
My son did not set out to discriminate. He was aware of our family value and the school value of acceptance. He just didn’t know the word or how loaded it was.
I wonder now if the school could have handled it differently, opening the conversation, gently telling a child what words are offensive, and welcoming curiosity and questions about difference.
That’s our job with our kids. Let’s teach them non-judgment and encourage curiosity. Let’s teach them words and phrases that might be offensive. And let’s teach them to ask their black neighbor if what they said is offensive in any way.
That’s actually what I did yesterday after I wrote the song. I called a black friend and asked her to listen. I asked her if anything was triggering. I had never done that before about a song I wrote and I felt that was a big step in the right direction for me.
So that’s what I mean when I say change is on the horizon. I find it very encouraging. But we need to go through lots of growing pains before we get there.
So how have you broached the topic with your kids? Please comment below and let us know. We all need some support on this.
Do you have a friend who could use a song to illustrate the predicament we are in? Send them the Tuesday Tune In and tell them to sign up below so they’ll get the next one too.
Yeah, many parts of this period of our lives has sucked big time. BUT I wonder if one day we will look back on this time as a sweet one for our families too. A moment in which there wasn’t a feeling that time was limited and someone was always rushing out, to work, to drinks, to see friends. Rather there was a feeling of togetherness—you could even call it stickiness.
I don’t know about you but I’ve been feeling clingier to my kids and husband. I mean, it’s ridiculous, because we’re with each other ALL the time, but I still didn’t want my husband to take a necessary 3 hour drive to get our stuff. As much as I need space, I want them to stay near me.
The beauty of this pandemic epoch is that there’s a little bubble that’s been built around our families that disconnects us from the world, and binds us closer to each other.
Of course, this might not be the case for everyone. I’m sure parents who are also essential workers are having a completely different experience.
But regardless of the situation, we could all use this moment for art.
Instead of having just stories and photos from this time, we can make a simple song that you’ll sing to your kids and they’ll sing to their kids to bring back the feeling of togetherness that we had during this time.
And I’m here to help you make it.
Here’s how to make your family’s quarantine song:
Tip: Since documenting the songwriting process is so easy these days on our phones, I suggest you take advantage and have the camera ready for each one of these.
The improv approach:
This approach is good for kids who want to fly by the musical seat of their pants. It entails letting your kid riff and you following along. This can be done with any age.
With babies and little kids start, with a melody. Nothing complicated. See if they take the lead and you can follow. Repeat any words that emerge and add on.
With the bigger kids who are able to come up with full sentences, go with their themes. It doesn’t totally need to make sense. Just go with it! It can be gibberish with only some real words.
Here’s some inspiration: You know how Elton John and Bernie Taupin write songs? Elton John comes up with a melody and chord progression while mumbling vocalizations into a recorder. Bernie then takes the recording and turns it into comprehensible words and ideas. He plays off the jibberish sounds Elton John makes and also finds his own.
You can do that with your kid! Themes you didn’t know were there might emerge later on second listening.
Tip: Get physically relaxed. Feeling lazy and comfy is key to letting creative juices flow without judgment. My daughter and I often do this lying down in bed holding the phone over us.
Here is an example I did today with my daughter. She is probably older than most of your kids, so yours may have shorter sentences or even one word verses. That’s ok!
The Pen to paper approach:
This one is all about lyrics first. If your kid is old enough, brainstorm with them. If not, do it with your partner or even on your own. Come up with some lines to describe how you’re feeling these days.
For instance, the other day in class one of the moms (shout out to Kristen!) said this period felt like she was “cramming for finals and pulling overnighters, with no finals in sight. How long can it last?” I loved that line, jotted it down and it made it into this song (with her permission of course.)
Here is a tip: Think about how you have been describing your feelings and days to your family and friends. Most likely you’ve been using some of the same phrases. Go with those!
The movement approach:
Writing a song with movement means that you are bringing rhythm in with your body. You can do this while you walk outside, jumping over pillows, or running around the house. It is similar to the improv approach but you are just saying one or two words per movement. This strategy is good for the kids who need to be on the move while they think and create.
The storytelling approach:
Use a character to tell a story. The character can be your kid’s favorite stuffy, a character from a show or book they like, or made up on the spot. For instance, if your kid has a favorite panda stuffy, ask them: What does panda do in the morning? How does her quarantine day look? Tell your family’s story through panda. You can use a melody from a song that exists, for instance the ABC song, or you can make up your own.
The facilitator approach:
This one’s my favorite because I get to be involved! I propose we put aside a half hour in which I sit virtually with you and your family and help you write your quarantine song. I’ll help you brainstorm and then shape your lyrics and melody into a song. Then I’ll send you a video of how it all turned out.
Saturday night family activity: CHECK.
Do any of you remember when I did a kickstarter for my second album Hello My Baby? One of the prizes was writing a song with me and many of you signed up to do it. It ended up being one of the most delightful experiences of the whole album making process. We wrote some great songs! I’m fantasizing about that experience with you all.
Last week my talented friend Amelia Robinson from Mil’s Trills invited my daughter and I to her songwriting show to write a song with her for a nurse. The experience reminded me how wonderful it is to have a facilitator during the songwriting process. (Here’s what we came up with. No, my daughter did not let us get a word in edge wise. Yes, it seems she is the daughter of a diva songwriter.)
I’d love to offer that to you! If you’re interested email us at email@example.com to book a time and find out the details.
Ok dear quarantunies, I hope you are inspired to start your quarantune songbook with your kid. What an album it will be! Sure, photo albums are great. But this is an album you and your family can take with you everywhere.
Have you written any quarantine songs with your kids? We want to hear them! Please post below! Do you have songwriting techniques? Comment below!
Do your friends need some inspiration? Are they in a puzzle making rut? Send them this post to ignite their inner Elton John.
It’s looking like this new reality of Zoom grandpa hugs and Facetime grandma kisses is going to last a while. But the problem is, our kids are kind of over it. So this week, let’s talk about something that’s become essential to our living these days—how to keep our little ones engaged with family members on the screen.
Here’s the thing. When quarantine started, we rushed to the computers. Hell, we were on a Facetime high for those first few weeks. We met with friends on Zoom left and right, the kids were excited to have extra time with the grandparents. It actually even felt a little better than normal; we were connecting with our loved ones even more than usual.
And then the energy tanked. The kids crawled away or hid from the screen. They got tired of it and we understood. And that meant disappointed grandparents, some who even took it a littler personally. And It was a loss for us too. We came to rely on those convos as the next best thing to a babysitter. We could do the dishes, straighten up, or even take a work call as they were happening. Plus we loved them for helping maintain the connection between our kids and loved ones.
So before we figure out how we can breathe new life into our kids’ relationship with extended family through the screen, let’s talk about why our kids might not be fans of connecting through video.
Why your kids are not a fan of Facetime
The obvious reason is that there is no substitute for the actual snuggles and kisses that relatives give. Kids need tactile stimulation. We all do. Not being able to curl up into grandpa’s lap for a story is a huge loss.
But there’s more to it.
Connecting visually through the screen can be confusing. When we are face to face with someone we learn to pick up on many tiny cues constantly happening: a twitch around the mouth, a slight smile in the eyes, a face slightly turned away, the body leaning in, the eyebrows in a slight scowl. These cues are extremely subtle and we react to them just as unconsciously as they were expressed.
Facetime eliminates a lot of those extra cues because the picture isn’t clear enough, there’s often a delay, and because we don’t see the full body. We have much less information to go on and that means it is harder to connect.
Not only that, the technical issues of video chatting make our emotional experience tiring. A recent New York Times article explained that because the image we are watching is out of sync with the speech, delayed, or frozen for a second, “we perceive it as a prediction error that needs to be fixed…we’re having to do more work because aspects of our predictions are not being confirmed, and that can get exhausting.” (Paula Niedenthal, professor or psychology at the University of Wisconsin.)
Meaning, we aren’t able to make a logical match between the speech and the picture. We need to fill in the gaps to make sense of the emotion expressed. And that’s alot of work.
Why it’s worth it nonetheless
That said, the benefits of Facetime with grandparents, especially right now, outweigh the costs. Our kids (and us) need connection. They’ve got us at home all the time now but they also see us working more than ever, on our computers, cleaning, etc. Having family members who are exclusively focused on them repairs that a bit.
Also, believe it or not, this type of screen time is not only NOT harmful, it is beneficial. The American Academy of Pediatrics say that interactive facetime with a relative (or in a music class!!) is in a different category than normal screen time. It makes all the difference when your baby is fully engaged and when each side is reacting to each other.
So we know why it may be challenging, and we know why it’s worth fighting for nonetheless. So now let’s talk a few tips and tricks so your kids don’t go on hating them. Facetime that is, not the grandparents.
So here are a few tips that YOU’VE told me have worked for you.
1. Story Time
No matter what age the child, this is a winner strategy. The family members can read board books and story books to the little ones and chapter books to the older kids. My daughter’s interest in grandma screen time was reignited when grandma started reading Charlotte’s Web. Now she is excited to tune in.
2. Lunch Date
Lots of parents have told me that their babies and kids are happier talking to family members when it’s over a meal. The kids are busy with the food and have something tactile to work on. The grandparents can tell them a story, just hang out, or have their own meal at the same time.
3. Facetime Song
I’m sure you’re not surprised to see this on the list. That’s because it works! Ask your family members to have a hello song, and goodbye song, songs that help structure the call. If they can throw in some hand gestures and movement songs, even better.
4. Busy Bee
Before you make the call, set your kid up with an engaging activity – drawing, play dough, cutting, painting, building, sticking, whatever. That way your kid can be busy with something they love and the grandparents can chime in and feel like they are involved.
My daughter’s other grandmother is very crafty. She’s been leading them in art projects over the screen.
5. Puppet Play
Looking at 2D faces is not that interesting. You know what is? PUPPETS. The kids in my classes love when we do our puppets songs. They add color, fun, and imagination. Even the disengaged babies seem to tune in during the puppet song. Here is one of the songs we do in class. Send this to the grandparents. Send them a puppet in the mail. It’s super simple and is sure to be a hit.
My daughter joined me on this one… a fave of hers too.
6. Bubble Bash
It’s never the wrong time for bubbles. Someone just mentioned this in one of my classes today and I love it. So simple. Have grandma grab a bottle of bubbles. That will definitely make the screen more interesting. And to make the party even more spectacular, you can blow bubbles on your side too.
7. Peace Out
Sometimes our kids get turned off by an activity that they feel they can’t get out of. Your daughter might have had a great time talking to grandma last week but it went on longer than she could handle. She ended up being tired of it and didn’t know how to end it. To avoid this, decide on a sign, gesture, word, song, that your kid uses to say “I’m done”. They don’t always know how to say it and that could be part of their hesitation. Give them a way to get out of it elegantly.
8. Ipad is best
When possible, use an ipad instead of a computer or phone – this is just a technical adjustment. The phone is too small and also trains our kids to stare at our phones (like we do all day). Better to avoid that. The computer has way too many enticing buttons on it. I’m sure you’ve already experienced that issue and are still trying to find that file that’s now vanished from your desktop.
The main gist of all of these is this: Take the focus off the screen in and of itself.
Have the grandparents bring in an activity or set your kid up with an activity. That way they can share in the experience.
But there’s something important we need to remember:
This is going to go in phases. It is natural for our kids to be very into something for a while and then tired of it the next. We go through the same phases ourselves! It means that grandparents and family members need to accept this and not take it personally.
Mostly they know this and accept all push and pull their grandchild hits them with. But these times are different. Right now the older generation may be feeling scared, threatened, lonely and emotional. Connection to the grandkids is mostly everything.
You know what else they need right now? You guys.
So even if your kids aren’t in the mood to connect with family members right now, you can make the effort to do so. Chances are, you need it just as much as they do.
In fact, that’s how I ended this song called “Grandparents.” I realized it was really me who needed the hug most of all.
Do you have other tricks you use to get your kids excited about Skyping with the family? COMMENT below and let us know! We need your tips!
Do you have a friend who needs a Facetime cheerleader? Send them this post. Have them join our Tune-iverse.
Do you have a baby 0-12 months old right now and are thinking—what the F**k? And HELPPP?
I mean, it’s hard enough to have kids of any age during this time. Mine won’t let me finish a thought without coming in to ask me to cut a rainbow, make a sandwich, play a game, or just to whine.
Parenting during the Corona virus FEELS like that period of having a newborn for most of us. But you all actually HAVE one.
Which means, on top of dealing with the insane reality we’re living in and being cooped up inside, you are just trying to figure out how to get through the day with no sleep, and a creature who needs tending to 24/7.
So Tunie, I can’t do your laundry or babysit right now, but I can give you some ideas on what to do with your baby to feel more connected, more at ease, and help you better speak your baby’s language.
These 6 little gems will help you fill your day with giggles and restful naps. You might remember them from the Baby in Tune class. If you have taken it, use this as a refresher to help during those trying days.
1. The Mirroring Technique – Mirror your baby’s vocal sounds. Our babies register when we speak THEIR language. You can do this with older babies using instruments or vocals. This is the building block of connecting to your baby, making them feel heard and understood. If you’ve taken the class you remember how this technique can spur on a full back and forth conversation. In fact, this is usually the activity that gets dads feeling like – “yeah! we can hang!”
2. Passively Present Play – It takes focus to truly let your baby take the lead. Put aside your thinking self and join your baby with your sensing self. Try the exercise we did in class at home for at least 3 minutes each day. Get on the floor in the position your baby is in. Let your baby teach you how to be fully present and explore like a scientist.
3. Hand Gesture Songs – Your baby LOVES hand gesture songs. Remember the three types we talked about? 1. Just using hands, 2. Using hands + body, and 3. Using full body. Try these different types this week. Which ones does your baby like? (need a list? Email me.)
4. Rhythm Play – In our class we use rhythm in various ways. For this exercise, pat by their ears so they feel and hear the rhythm in stereo, and see if your baby becomes more alert or calm. Babies LOVE rhythm. Use the songs we did in class to drum on the rug or on pots and pans. Use dynamics (loud, soft, slow, fast), to keep your baby engaged.
5. The Songwriting Method – If you’ve taken a Baby in Tune class, hopefully you left feeling like anyone can write a good ditty, even the sleep-deprived parent. In fact, only you can write the PERFECT song for your baby. Using the steps we use in class it takes less than 5 minutes to write a whole song. Try to write your own each day. Go silly, go nonsensical, go poopy and pee-pee if you must. And when you remember the song you wrote the next day, that’s your hit.
6. Dance Party – Your baby loves to be in SYNC. And so do we! Dance parties are the perfect way. The best time to do it? Right when you can’t take it any longer. When you’ve been pushed to your limits and can’t change another diaper, bounce, shush, or sway for another second. Yup – around 5:00pm. Need a playlist? Here is mine.
Here’s the thing. Caring for a baby, especially right now when you can’t leave the house, is draining. It’s ok to sometimes feel angry at your baby for needing SO MUCH. It’s ok to not feel in love with your baby all the time and need some time alone.
Activities like these can help us feel more in tune with our baby, and more attuned to our baby. When we start speaking our baby’s language through music, we start to understand our baby’s needs a whole lot more.
And that leads to more sleep, more peace, more joy, more snuggles, more smiles, more cooing, and less crying.
You know – that moment when you are both gazing into each other’s eyes and suddenly who cares if they woke you up every hour and a half? Connecting means shedding some of those indoor blues that we are all feeling right now.
And before doing these activities, try our “Three Breaths Technique” to bring you fully into the moment. Take in a breath and on every exhale think of something you are grateful for.
So let’s do this. Put the laundry pile aside, forget about the apple sauce crusted on the floor, put your phone in another room, and just be with your baby.
Do you know a parent of a baby who can’t sing Twinkle Twinkle one more time and needs some SOS activity help right NOW? Send them this.
AND – guys, I’ve got a big surprise coming to you THIS WEEK. Stay tuned.
COMMENT and let me know what your baby’s favorite activities are.
It’s day 1,298 of being home and your kids are driving you insane. I get it. But you’ve also told us in our classes that your kids are also what is keeping you SANE.
They are keeping you distracted from the news, busy with meal prep, frazzled with keeping them out of danger, occupied with keeping them clean, rested and calm.
And all of those tasks mean they are keeping you right here. In this moment.
We don’t have time to gaze out the window and zone out on what-ifs. We don’t have space to lie in bed staring at the ceiling wondering when this will end. We barely have time to shower for chrissake.
You are taking it day by day because that is all your baby allows you to do. So let’s let them teach us how to be fully present in this moment as they are.
Here are 6 ways to feel present with your baby amidst all the craziness going on right now.
1. Schedule time in your day to BE with your baby.
Whether you are working an outside job or not, you’ve got your hands full right now. But if we schedule time in our day when we plan to be fully present with our baby we might not fight it during the day. I bet you spend a lot of your day feeling guilty that you are not actually spending time with your baby. Especially now that you are with each other all day. But being near and being WITH is different. So now that we are all cooped up let’s pencil in some special time, even if it is just a few minutes a day.
2. Make a quarantine music video journal with them
We often think that taking pics or videos pulls us out the moment but I find that this activity brings you in. Lie on your bed together and take a selfie video of yourselves singing a song. Doesn’t matter which, you can even make one up. Try to do it every few days. Let the camera be witness to your present moment together. Doing so may invite your observer self to join which can add another layer to feeling present.
Here’s some inspiration. A video I made with my daughter.
3. Let your baby lead the play. You follow.
In this one you can relax. Your job is to just follow your baby around and surrender to their whims. Are they stopping to examine the remote control? Examine it with them. Are they grabbing at the play mat? Are they walking from room to room picking stuff up and throwing it down? Follow them. FIgure out what they are drawn to, what they want to touch, hold, and put in their mouth.
4. Put on music.
You guys. This just does the trick. It’s powerful. It brings us instantly into the moment. It takes us out of our thinking self and into our FEELING self. And that means we pause to explore through our senses. When we aren’t consumed with thoughts we open ourselves to the sounds, smells, sights, and textures around us. Remember that time you put aside to be with your baby? Enhance it with some good music in the background.
5. Pick up the corners of your mouth. Simple enough, just shift the corners of your mouth into a slight Mona Lisa smile and notice if your ‘tude shifted a little along with it.
6. TOUCH your baby
Doing these remote classes has made me realize how much I normally touch your babies in class – on their toes, their head, their bellies. I’ve been missing it desperately and have really identified with grandparents everywhere who can’t right now. So touch your sweet babies for all of us. Hold their squishy sweet bodies close. If you follow me on Instagram and Facebook you know I’ve written a song about this recently. I’m about done with it. Come find out how it ends up.
Here are two more ways Baby in Tune can help you feel more PRESENT, less guilty, more WITH, less near.
We are now offering 6-packs to be used anytime within 6 weeks. You can come to one class a week or 5 a week. Your choice. Go here to sign up for a remote class a la carte or for a 6-pack at a reduced rate.
Free intro class:
This is for any of your friends who have never taken a Baby in Tune class before . This Friday at 11:00am I’ll be doing a FREE remote into class. They can sign up HERE.
So now tell us – did any of these bring you into the moment with your baby? Which one? What exactly were you doing? Be specific so we can jump into the moment with you. COMMENT BELOW.
Have a friend who could use some de-guilting? Send them this post and tell them to sign up for more.
“Hello, 911? Yes it’s an emergency. My kids and I are stuck inside the house. I’m about to lose my sh*t.
Why yes, I’d love some Emergency Music Entertainment ideas. Like, NOW? “
Let’s do this.
IDEA #1: The Human Piano
Set up pillows on the floor in a circle around your child. As you jump from pillow to pillow, sing a different note. Doesn’t matter if it is in one scale or not, aka in tune or on melody! Your baby will quickly catch on.
If your baby is not mobile yet she will watch with delight as you jump from one pillow to the next singing a song. If your kiddo is mobile, she will join your jumping immediately, no doubt.
Get jiggy with it. Challenge yourself to jump further and remember the note that is associated with each pillow. It just might entertain you as much as it will them!
Pull ‘em all out. Go ahead. This is not a time to worry about mess. We’ve got some entertainment to pull off here! Plus, pots are pretty easy to put back once you’re done. Bring out the tupperware too while you’re at it.
And wooden spoons? Yep, them too. Do NOT take out the metal spoons because they’ll bust your ears and no one needs that.
Now, go nuts on your drums. Get tribal. Experiment with the sounds. Notice the different tones each pot and container has. And more than that, notice the sounds that different parts of the pot make. For instance, hitting the rim will sound different than hitting the side, or turning it over and hitting the bottom. Point this out to your child as you do it to help them learn.
The mere [not that chaotic] chaos of pots scattered around you both will be exciting for your baby.
Play like a Times Square subway master during rush hour. Bring down the house.
IDEA #3: Make up a song!
Here are two ways to try:
Body parts. This one is a no brainer. All of your kisses and squeezing of body parts lends itself to the lyrics already. In fact, you may have already written this one. But if not, go with a pattern. Say something about your baby’s thigh. Can be as simple as,“Here’s Jonah’s thigh!” Or “I can see your arm, it goes up and down.” And then go with it!
Do the same with all the other body parts you can think of. Bring in the limbs but also the smaller features like nose, ears, toes, etc.
Movement. I bet I can make a list of movements your baby likes to do: Run, jump, spin, crawl, roll, dance, squat and stand, sway upper body, and clap. Good list? Add your own and now let’s put them into a song. Doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, the simpler the better. “Lucy likes to run run run! Run run run! Run run run! Lucy likes to jump jump jump! Jump jump jump….” you get the idea. At a loss for a tune? Use a simple one you know, like “Itsy Bitsy Spider.”
IDEA #4: Give the ball a voice
If you’ve taken our classes, you know that we love to play with balls in a musical way. We usually do it with the older babies, but musical ball play can work with all ages. In fact, today in class a mama said that her son’s first giggle came that day when she had thrown up a ball and caught it. He thought it was hysterical.
So what do you do? As you throw up a ball, make the sound effect of the ball. I have a feeling it is some sort of a high pitched “Whooooo!”
If you have different balls, you can make different sounds for each ball. And if your baby is older, you can pass it back and forth and both of you can make your sounds.
Ball play is so much more fun when the ball has a voice!
IDEA #5: Make up a dance
I admit it, I can’t help but be inspired by the Tic Toc dances teenagers are doing these days. So what do you do? Become the choreographer of your baby’s dreams.
Put on your favorite song and pretend you are a DJ on a cruise ship. Teach your baby the line dance of your favorite song. Make it up! Use the motions your baby knows how to do.
Hands up! Head bob! Tushie shake! Shoulder shimmy!
You know what? You and your baby may remember this dance forever and may just perform it at a family reunion in 25 years, ala Moira and David from Schitt’s Creek. (Google it. I promise it’s good.)
If you’ve got a baby, hold them as if they are your Frank Sinatra dancing across the room.
Got a toddler? Teach them your dance moves because YES, you DO think you can dance.
Two tricks to make this a success:
With all of these activities and all the musical activities you do with your baby, there is one important trick. Dynamics.
Dynamics can make the difference between your baby losing interest in a second and staying with you throughout.
If you’ve taken our classes you know we use dynamics all the time. What does it mean?
Sing loud, and then soft.
Go fast, and then slow.
Sing with a silly voice, and then your own voice.
Sing high, sing low.
Every time I do this in class, it astounds me how well it works. When your baby starts to lose interest, or the music becomes overwhelming, (or heck, you just need a breather!), come back to a steady rhythm. Patting on your thighs is sufficient. Bring it back to consistency. It works.
Hey, J-Lo and Shakira are two mamas who recently proved that in a major way.
So, did these ideas help you Tune in to a toddler about to combust? Or to a baby about to blow? COMMENT below and let me know.
Do you have any of your own musical fun ideas to get the wiggles out when you’re stuck indoors? Save a fellow parent in need and let us know below!
Most importantly – send this to that friend at home with a baby that you love best. Because sharing is caring.
Deer petunias – It’s getting colder and that can only mean one thing: Layers.
All the endless layers to put on your baby. I know how frustrating it is.
First, you have to find all the pieces.
I’m talking the socks, the gloves, the sweaters, the hats, the snow suits.
Then, worst of all, you have to get them on your baby.
Music can come to your rescue whether you’re rushing or have some time to do it (that never seems to happen). My advice?
Have a song for getting your baby dressed.
(spoiler alert: I made up a couple to inspire you.)
This is going to be the song that you sing during the entire process of putting all the layers on. You’ll keep singing it even through the tears and here’s why:
Why You Need a Bundle-Up Song
The more you sing your song as you’re getting your baby dressed, the more your baby will associate the song with this activity. Eventually, your baby will know that the song will end as does the dressing – and it always leads to going outside.
Singing the song will relax you and your baby through the process. If it’s a song that’s fun to sing, then you might even enjoy singing it and that will help turn the activity into a positive one.
If your song involves listing the clothing parts, it’ll help you remember them. And if you’re anything like me, then you’re probably forgetting a whole lot right about now.
Now, what song are you going to sing?
My strongest preference is for you to write one on your own. In my classes, we spend a session on songwriting so that the parents feel more comfortable to start writing songs on their own.
You might already be writing little ditties about what you are doing with your baby. If you are, then the next time you start bundling your baby you can start to sing what you are doing. Try a few different melodies and eventually one will stick.
Another option is to use something that’s already out there. It doesn’t have to be about getting dressed; it can be any song. Or you can use a song that exists and change the lyrics a little bit. For instance: “This is how we put on our socks, put on our socks, put on our socks.”
And, to be a good sport, I just wrote 2 little ditties for you right now. Check them out here. They’re not going to win a Grammy but at least they’ll give you an idea for how simple it can be to write a short song that you can use.
Admittedly: A short song that you will sing for possibly a not-short amount of time until the fingers and toes are sufficiently covered, insulated and secured. But you’ll thank me when you’re out catching snowflakes on your tongue – instead of still in a standoff next to the shoe rack.
What wintergear do you usually forget to put on? For me, it’s gloves. No matter how many times I try. COMMENT below and tell me how you do it.
Been hearing bundling-up complaints from another mom or dad? Forward this to them because parents help parents get out of the house alive.
And if you’re still with me and want more, here is a vlog I did about getting out of the house with our babies.
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.
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.
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:
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.
Our babies are born with a sensitivity to music. You could even say that music is innate. This is a uniquely human quality.
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.
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.
Our babies feel happier when they hear music.
Our babies feel soothed when they are sung to.
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:
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.
So how do we find the music within us?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…)
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
Yes! Please send me more of the Tuesday Tune-In!
Music for Parents. And babies Love it Too.
Creative Child Magazine Baby Album of the Year
Parents Choice Gold Award
National Parenting Publications Gold Award
Independent Music Awards Best Childrens Album Nominee