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Infants love to hear their Parents and Grandparents Singing. Here’s Why.

Infants love to hear their Parents and Grandparents Singing. Here’s Why.

Music is vocal or instrumental sounds that combine to produce beauty of harmony and expression of emotions. It is an amazing way to bond with your young child or grandchild and connect generations, and a remarkable tool for learning.

  • Singing is among the most meaningful activities we share with children.

Scientists report that tiny infants show sensitivity to rhythm and pitch and can distinguish familiar melodies. Dr Mehr of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto stated that, across class and culture, a babies’ memory for music is astounding and “they’re incredibly perceptive listeners.”

His work has demonstrated that 5-month-olds whose parents sing them a song for just a week or two remember that melody eight months later. When they encounter strangers who sing to them in the lab, they pay more attention to someone singing the familiar melody than a different song, even one with the same words and rhythms.

Further research showed that at 11 months, babies exposed to a song for one to two weeks will choose an object (a small stuffed lion) offered by a stranger singing the familiar song, preferring it to one presented by a stranger whose song they don’t know.

  • Infants pay more attention to singing than to speech

Dr  Trehub, Department of Psychology at the University of Toronto, has shown that in a dim lab, 7- to 10-month-olds will listen to recorded singing for an average of nine minutes before they start fussing or crying, twice as long as they attend to recorded speech. “It’s a terrific distraction from a distressing event,” Dr Trehub said. “You start singing and they’re completely transported.”

At any moment in time babies are confronted with strange new sights, sounds and experiences. This may explain why they respond so strongly to repetition. When we sing the same songs over and over, “infants have expectations about what comes next,” Dr Trehub explained. “When their expectations are fulfilled, that’s rewarding and comforting.”

  • Music can be used to comfort and reassure children

Dr Mehr’s theory is that when an adult sings to a child it shows that they are paying attention, something enormously important to vulnerable babies. “It’s a signal of who’s a friend, a member of my group”.  It doesn’t much matter how well or poorly you sing. It’s the attention and the emotion that kids respond to.

  • Music can be used as a teaching tool

Simple songs are perfect tools to teach the alphabet, counting, the times tables or even another language.  Through touch a baby discovers different textures or variations of temperature and begins to understand their world. Songs that incorporate play with fingers and toes are fun, but they’re also great for learning numbers or increasing awareness of fine motor skills.

 

A child can learn just by moving their hands in rhythm with a song.  They can connect with you as you teach them the signs hand over hand; they can learn basic turn taking skills; they may find themselves motivated to reach high above them as they do Twinkle Twinkle Little Star; or they might learn body awareness as they do Head, Shoulders, Knees, & Toes; plus they’ll have fun doing it because music always makes things more enjoyable!

 

  • Music can be a way of introducing a child to their history, heritage and culture.

As parents and grandparents, sharing simple songs helps your child to discover that they are part of an on-going story and that they have a special place in their family.  Singing songs to children in the first language of their Grandparents, or parents is a strong way to build identity and develop language skills.

Music is an activity that can create a sense of inclusion and happiness.  Some of us would have experienced singing songs together as a family while on holidays, or on long journeys. Children then identify these particular songs with positive experiences.

Singing and making music with a young child is a great way to spend time together. It’s learning, it’s bonding, it’s creative and will make both of you feel great!

 

Written by Lise Robin

20 Things to Check when Buying a Stringed Instrument

20 Things to Check when Buying a Stringed Instrument

Here is a list of things you should check and take into account when you are buying a stringed instrument. Some apply to used instruments only. Whether you are buying a violin, viola, cello or bass it is better to be prepared with what to look out for before investing in a new instrument.

  • The first thing to consider is which size is best for you. If you are buying a violin there is a great size chart here. A ¾ size Cello’s total length should be 45 inches and the bow 27 inches. Measure from the top of the purfling to the bottom (use a cloth tape).

  • Handmade by Luthier will be superior to a factory made. These days a Luthier made new instrument is not common, most new instruments are factory made, so be prepared to pay more for handmade by a Luthier. It is more likely you will find a handmade instrument at a reasonable price if you are buying pre-loved.

  • The instrument should be made of maple and spruce, not plywood or veneer.  Look for the wood grain.

  • Fingerboard and pegs should be made of rosewood or ebony, not stained or painted black, as these create friction and make the instrument difficult to play.

  • Check how easy is it to tune the Cello to concert pitch? The strings and bridge will break on a  poorly made instrument when tuned to the correct pitch.

  • Check for cracks.  An old Cello will have some scuffs and some cracks may be acceptable depending on where they are.  Make sure they are level and closed.  Don’t buy a Cello if there is a crack under the soundpost or bridge.

  • Make sure the original scroll is fitted. The neck and scroll should be one piece, if there is a join it indicates that the scroll has been replaced or the instrument is poorly made.

  • Are the pegs easy to move? Do they slip? (Planetary Precision Pegs are available and are very good)

  • Look inside to see if the sound post is standing and in the correct position. If it is not in place the instrument will need work to sound correct.

  • Look at the size of the nut, are the strings too far off the fingerboard, are the grooves correctly spaced? (images)

  • Is the fingerboard the correct shape?  Is it properly planed under the C string? (images)

  • For Cello’s and Bass’s check that the endpin does not slip and holds firm.  Is it long enough.  What sort of point is on the end, you may need a pad for slippery floors.

  • Check the bridge

    • What sort of wood is it made of

    • Is it the correct height

    • Should not be glued on

    • Do the feet make full contact with the instrument

    • How thick is it

    • Is the curve the correct shape

    • Are the notches correctly spaced and the right depth

    • Is it aligned in the correct position

 

  • Have a few scales and pieces prepared to play.  Take some music with you.  Use the same ones on each instrument you try so you can hear the difference.

  • Play in all registers.

  • Ask the owner to play for you.

  • Temperature and humidity will affect the sound, take this into consideration.

  • Try and play in different acoustic environments.

  • Is the instrument responsive – is it easy to play pp and ff – check the dynamic range?  Is it loud enough on the C string and does the sound project.

  • Listen for any buzzing noises. If apparent, these usually occur above between the fingering and the nut or from the tailpiece.

  • Are there any wolf notes? The sometimes can be reduced or eliminated by using a device such as this modulator here.

  • Ask how and where the instrument has been stored, and how much it was played

  • Remember some parts can be upgraded (strings, pegs, tailpieces etc) but will be additional costs for you

  • What sort of bow does it have?  Is it the correct length.  Does it need rehairing? Octagonal bows are less flexible. If you are replacing an instrument, it is a good idea to continue using your old bow on the new instrument for a period of time until you become accustomed to the new instrument. Then you can try to the bow. Each bow is slightly different and it is better to have a familiar friend in your bowing hand as you get used to your new instrument.

  • What sort of case does it have? Do you need a hard case or will a soft case be sufficient?