From the Mommy Files…

I Meant to Raise Music Lovers

Posted on: May 13, 2010

Last time I wrote about my music-loving girls requesting songs they wanted to hear – before we even got into the car. They love music – all kinds – and love to dance. I meant to raise music lovers.

I’ve read about pregnant moms putting headphones on their bellies, piping classical music into the womb. In an article about the Mozart Effect, the expert indicates that it can’t hurt, and he also suggests that the mother spend some time herself listening to soothing music. I’ve heard that only playing classical music for your fetus will bring you a calm child. Pregnancy Magazine  once did a piece on “Baby’s First Classroom” and talked about all these things.  There are even things called “Prenatal Education,” and moms add another stressor to their pregnancy time – they feel like they have to start teaching baby NOW, before it’s even born. I think it all has an effect on the baby, but so does the stress. Experts agree and disagree, but do what you feel is right for your child. Just don’t stress yourself out trying to “get everything right” and worry, “did I do enough for my child while I was pregnant?” Just eat right, get some exercise – take care of yourself. Be good to yourself.

My mother told me that when she was pregnant with me, my older siblings were at school or out playing most of the time; my dad worked endless hours, so she spent a lot of time alone. She passed her time listening to Greek music, singing and dancing around the house. In her younger years, she sang in the church choir and performed in a folk dance troupe. These were things she really enjoyed. She also told me that she didn’t do these things while she was expecting any of my siblings. I should tell you that none of them have any musical tendencies and they really don’t dance.

Mom said I could hum well before I could speak. I could bounce to music before I could even roll over or crawl. When I became mobile, I danced all the time. Every gathering brought me an audience, and I performed for our family and friends. Everyone thought for sure I’d pursue a future in the arts. That was my original plan.

I performed as a soloist and in choirs through the end of college. Later I performed with a Greek folk dance troupe for 8 years. The singing –I should say the performing – I gave up after acquiring stage fright. (Yeah, that one’s hard to explain.) That fright didn’t affect dancing, somehow. I felt free when I sang or danced. I became known for these talents.

When I was expecting my first child, I thought, I’m going to see if my mom’s theory really works. It can’t hurt. I listen to a lot of Greek music anyway, and I made a point to dance. Yes, around the house. We’d attend functions and people would marvel that the woman with the big belly was dancing.

An article in Pregnancy Today  says that fetuses can hear at about 20 weeks. Some say earlier. Either way, your baby can hear you. So watch your tone, watch HOW you say things. Your baby will learn your voices and be comforted by it (or upset, as the case may be) when he’s born. Once in the great big world, songs she heard while in the womb can be comforting too.

I like all types of music, except for a few. My husband is a music lover too. We listen to foreign music (not just Greek!), opera, classical, jazz, rock – you name it 

I noticed during my first pregnancy, that when we went to church, and the priest would chant, the baby would kick a lot. When the chanting stopped, she’d stop. She also responded to the priest’s voice when I spoke to him one-on-one. I decided that the baby loved church. She’s always liked going to church, and really enjoys the Byzantine Chants.

When I was about 6 months pregnant, we attended a concert of the renowned tenor Mario Frangoulis. This kid went crazy! I never got the impression that it was upsetting to her or stressed her. I knew – she loved music!

While pregnant I spoke to the baby, sometimes read to her aloud, and sang a lot. It helped me to relax. The dancing gave me some exercise and that made me feel good. I was by no means a slave to these practices.

When BooBoo was born, she had really severe acid reflux. It was nearly impossible to calm her. After trying everything else, I sang to her, and that would help her to relax. I’d play music for her, I’d dance around with her and she loved it. For the first few months, only those moments seemed to bring her any peace. Babies respond to the sing-songy way mothers speak to them – it’s calming.

BooBoo has been a singer and dancer ever since – our house seems to be always filled with music. If we aren’t actually playing music, someone is singing. She goes to dance classes now, and it’s one of her favorite things to do.

Now Bebs loves her music too. She likes to dance and she’s been humming for a long time, and sings some words now too.

My husband plays some piano and guitar, and my father-in-law plays too. The girls LOVE it when they play. They like to strum the guitar and will try to play the piano. They are really into it. We’ve exposed them to all kinds of music, too, and they respond to it, in positive ways. They hum, they dance – they smile. Music really sets a mood.

Within the next year BooBoo will probably begin piano lessons. She’s very excited. Music education is said to enhance the overall education of children. That’s a bonus. I wouldn’t force her if she didn’t show interest. The discipline of it, learning to make a commitment and be dedicated to something, the sheer beauty of it –it’s easy to see all the benefits.

So I’ve proved my mother’s theory. I really believe that parents should introduce their children to the arts – at least different types of music – even if it’s not their thing. It provides a very well-rounded experience, helps them to relax, concentrate and express themselves. I believe it opens new worlds; it opens their mind to the beauty and pleasure of music. It’s happiness. It’s good for the soul. You might find you enjoy it too, and it’s something you can do together.

There’s so much more to show them. We’re looking forward to taking them to concerts, and someday to the theater, the symphony and the opera.

On any given day, you’ll find us singing, dancing and making music. If this were a cartoon, little music notes would emanate from the house. It’s a happy, lively house indeed.



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