Posts Tagged 'musical memories'



Music and Memory

Heartsong Music InstrumentsHave you ever heard a song or sound from a certain time or place in your life, and been instantly transported? When I was in the 5th grade CD players were brand new, and I was thrilled beyond measure to receive one for Christmas. With this new CD player came 3 CDs: an instrumental guitar sampler, “Rubber Soul” by The Beatles, and “The Best of The Mamas & the Papas.” The oldies station on the radio was my favorite, so my parents had chosen music they knew I would love. I played those CDs nearly to pieces! I had one of them playing whenever I was in my room, whether I was reading, playing with friends, studying or even sleeping. So it makes sense that recently when I heard the-oh-so familiar strains of “California Dreamin’ ” by The Mamas & the Papas, I experienced a startling rush of emotions. I felt like I was 11 again! I remembered how it felt to be sitting on my twin bed, listening to the voices of my parents and siblings. I felt safe and content. I could even smell the way my bedroom had smelled, particularly the scent of my books, my drawing pastels, and laundry detergent. The experience was a reminder of what a wonderful childhood I had, and it really struck me how intense these recollections were.

During class we always begin with the “Hello Song” and end with the “Goodbye, So Long, Farewell” song. Part of the reason we do this is because of the musical memory that we are building by singing these ritual songs. When we sing the “Hello Song” together, we are preparing to begin, we are getting excited and warming up our voices. Scientific research shows that our brains are hard-wired to connect music with memory. Even for those who are experiencing dementia or suffering from Alzheimer’s, music can bring up deep emotional recall. There are studies that show familiar music calming brain activity and enabling the listeners to focus on the present moment.

Singing the same songs to begin and end every class allows our children to experience a time of beginning and preparation with “Hello” and a natural ending with “Goodbye”. This is also why singing goodbye to instruments, scarves, and other classroom props is so powerful! The musical memory of those two notes, “good-bye”, are ingrained in the children’s brains. Try singing goodbye to things at home to indicate an end to playtime (good-bye toys!), people (good-bye grandma!) or even TV time (good-bye Nickelodeon!). You may find that it is easier for your child to give up their favorite toy, not only because you have transformed saying goodbye into an activity by singing, but also because you have tapped in to that musical memory of saying goodbye in a safe and fun way.

Happy music making!

Sally Nava
Music Together Teacher

Making Musical Experiences with Books

SingAlongBooksOur Sing-Along Storybook Hour last weekend was super fun and had a great turn out! If you weren’t able to join us, here are some tips to make a musical experience out of books that are songs at home.

Sing the words! It may seem obvious, but the simplest tools are often the most important. Your child may or may not recognize that it’s a song they know without the reference of the melody to accompany the words. Remember that while they’re young, your children love your voice no matter what you think of it, so don’t feel shy or self conscious! And if you don’t remember perfectly how the tune goes, turn on your CD to remind you- or just wing it! They either won’t mind, or will help you out!

Keep it rhythmic! By using your finger to tap along on the page (pointing either to the words or the pictures), your child sees and hears the steady beat! If you want a break from singing, chanting in rhythm is a great option to keep the experience musical, rather than returning to your more fluid, conversational, spoken vocal pattern.

Explore the pictures! The pictures often have even more of a story to tell than the words written down do. So, feel free to pause before moving on to the next page to discuss or sing about all the interesting things your child sees. You can of course talk about it and then continue the song when you turn the page. You can also chant or continue singing the melody with your own new words, or use the resting tone (and the tonic 5th!) to hold a musical conversation!

Music Together has created a wonderful collection of favorite Music Together songs in book form, so far including: Hello Everybody, She Sells Seashells, One Little Owl, All Around the Kitchen, Sandpiper, May All Children, and Ridin’ in the Car. Here are some other great examples to look for too: May There Always be Sunshine by Jim Gill; the Pete the Cat series by Eric Litwin; What a Wonderful World illustrated by Ashley Bryan; Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb by Al Perkins; Baby Beluga by Raffi; Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star and many classics by Iza Trapani; and don’t forget the rhyming rhythm of everything by Dr. Seuss!

If you don’t personally own any of these, check out what we have next time you are at Heartsong, or at your favorite library branch. And feel free to share other personal favorites in the comments!

Vanessa Heilman
Certification Level I, Music Together Teacher


The Joy of Family Music

Heartsong Music teaches Music Together®, the internationally recognized early childhood music and movement program for children from birth through grade two and the adults who love them.

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