Helene Goldnadel


Interactive Music Class Puts Young Learners on the Fast Track to Communication

Do you think one-year-olds are too young to benefit from an interactive music class? Think again!

Science Daily reported that in a May 2012 study at McMaster Institute for Music and the Mind, researchers found that early interactive music class with a parent can help infants develop more sophisticated brain responses to music and surprisingly found it also helps them become better communicators.


Babies were divided into two groups and attended music class for six months with a parent. One group attended class that included lullabies, nursery rhymes and songs with actions. These babies also learned to play a percussion instrument with the help of the parent, learned to take turns and sing specific songs. The second group played at various toy stations listening passively to music in the background. Only the babies in the interactive class showed earlier sensitivity to pitch and showed improved communication skills.


Laurel Trainor, director of McMaster Institute for Music and the Mind, said the research indicated "the infant brain might be particularly plastic with regard to musical exposure." Some of the responses from the interactive class group of babies included early pointing at objects out of reach, waving goodbye, and smiling more. These babies also became easier to soothe. The study coordinator, Andrea Unrau, was quoted as saying, "The great thing about music is that everyone loves it, and everyone can learn simple interactive musical games together."


Connecting the Dots

If you are wondering how to connect the dots between the ideas from the researchers to the actual "diaper crowd", here is a simple musical game by Helene Goldnadel you can play with your one-year-old. Give your child a small castanet to hold, and then play a familiar rhythmical song such as "The Mexican Hat Dance". This song works particularly well because it has built-in response beats. For example, "There's a special dance that Mexicans like to do". (Clap-Clap). Hold a castanet and face your child so he or she can watch your face and movements. At the end of each phrase, instead of Clap-Clap, Click-Click the castanet in rhythm and say the word, "Hel-lo"


In her own experience with the youngsters Helene Goldnadel teaches, the babies start watching when to click and when to wait, and soon they get the hang of when to play. She holds her hands wide apart when they are supposed to wait and they start to imitate her. Use frog castanets, so the frogs say "hello" to each other. Before the age of two, the babies can perform this task with ease and seem to instinctively realize it's a social game as well as a musical game.

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