Perspectives: A Publication of the early Childhood Music and Movement Association

Perspectives: A Publication of the early Childhood Music and Movement Association

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Journal of the Early Childhood Music & Movement Association, established to provide a network of communication, encourage teacher development, and advocate education of parents, classroom teachers and administrators.


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  • Personal Reflections on Music and Pregnancy

    Author Angela Barker


    Editor’s Note: Scattered throughout this issue are recollections given by parents when asked about their personal memories of early musical experiences with their unborn child. While it is important to remember that these are personal reflections of events and not data solicited for research, it is interesting, nonetheless, to see common elements among some of these parents’ experiences with conclusions derived from prenatal research presented in this issue of Perspectives. For the online version of Perspectives, all the personal reflections have been aggregated on this page for your convenience.


    I used to listen to a specific lullaby CD and sing along with the recording as I rocked in the rocking chair each night before going to sleep. Within minutes of giving birth, I had my husband put on that same CD of lullabies. Right then, I noticed that it had a calming effect on my baby. She settled in, quieted herself, began to nurse, and her body relaxed. Over the next weeks and months, I continued the tradition of listening, singing, and rocking my baby as a routine for putting her to sleep. —Jennifer S. McDonel, Buffalo, NY


    While pregnant with my first child, I was a graduate student of musicology and I spent a lot of time listening to contemporary mu- sic. My daughter was a very quiet baby, even before she was born. Later, she was a quiet child who liked to read a lot and developed a keen sense for Bach's cello music (she is a cello player). When I was pregnant with my second child, I was a music and drama teacher with the preschool class. We sang a lot of songs from all over the world, danced, and played music games. My baby was bouncing all the time! When she was born, she was the happiest baby in the maternity ward and smiled a lot—every- body wanted to hold her! She especially liked the high-pitched voices and asked to play a violin (she is still playing). —Sanja Grujic-Vlajnic, Montgomery Village, MD


    I found that music helped me to connect with my child and deal with the changes I was going through as a woman. For both of my pregnancies, I created a mix of classical music that I listened to during the last trimester and during delivery. The mixes were very different: I had two very different pregnancies; each child was different – even in utero. My son was born to “Svéte tíhiy (Gladsome Light)” by Alexandre Gretchaninoff and my daughter was born to the Bach-Gounod “Ave Maria.” —Carol Ann Blank, Robbinsville, NJ


    Music, massage, and folk dancing were the "keys" to my pregnancies. I have no doubt that singing to my belly, massaging my belly, and dancing international folk dances throughout my pregnancies created three very talented young ladies. Today, they are ages 30, 29, and 25 and are creative contributors in their respected communities. —Deborah Lazarovic, Boca Raton, FL


    As a busy music therapist, I was playing guitar and singing 20-plus hours a week during my pregnancy. From the seventh month, my son was very active during music sessions. By the eighth month, he was kicking the guitar from one side of my tummy to the other and creating quite a visual component to the music therapy sessions. After he was born, these same songs, his built in personal soundtrack, were soothing to him because of their familiarity in comparison to other songs. —Laura Pope, North Carolina


    I was teaching Kindermusik classes when I was pregnant with my second child. I noticed that while I was teaching, he was very still; but in times of stillness, when I would allow the children to respond, he would respond as well with movement activity! —Jennifer S. McDonel, Buffalo, NY


    I was very pregnant with my son when we attended a performance of the Pittsburgh Symphony playing the 1812 Overture. With the brass blazing and the cannons firing, that baby jumped and leaped—what a
    wild rumpus! —Margaret Hooton, Pittsburgh, PA


    During my first pregnancy, 28 years ago, I was teaching 12 Yamaha music classes and 20 Suzuki piano students per week. My daughter was very active in utero during my teaching sessions. I think she was already moving to the music! Of course, the beginning pieces in Suzuki piano are the “Variations on Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” Not surprisingly, the first recognizable tune she sang (without words) at about 10 months was “Twinkle, Twinkle!” —Anne McNair, Columbia, SC


    I sat in the front, ready for an evening of organ music. Thomas, one month from birth, was quiet—until the music began. I wasn't surprised he was moving, he had responded to music before, but now he seemed to be doing somersaults! When the audience clapped, he was quiet; when the organ played, he danced again. After his birth, my son has continued to dance whenever there's music playing; and now we get to hear his singing, too! —Beth Gunshor,Madison,WI


    Our oldest son, now 35, is a music teacher. Before birth, he heard several weeks of "Fiddler On The Roof" rehearsals and performances as his mother played piano for rehearsals and pit orchestra performances. He was born the night after the final performance (to the great relief of the play director). He has told us for many years that "Fiddler" music "has always seemed deja vu," and that he has always had a special preference for Jewish folk tonalities and meters. —Rick Townsend, Watertown, WI


    Two weeks before my son’s due date, I was hired to sing for a temple for the Jewish High Holidays. [I was] a little tentative about accepting a job so close to the due date. Each time I sat down between songs, my son would wriggle in my belly. However, when I stood to sing, he would calm right down, almost as if he were listening and didn’t want to dis- tract me. Since then, I sing lullabies to him each night to soothe him to sleep. —Diane Plaster, Los Angeles, CA


    I used to think that the ideal condition during pregnancy was that of calm reflection; not a busy and stressful life of a music teacher, dealing with so many kids and so much energy, all day, every day. But one of the greatest revelations of my pregnancy was realizing how completely perfect my job is—I’ve surrounded my growing baby with music, movement, dancing, and singing, all day, every day! In the course of one day, my baby has had the chance to hear all styles of music, my singing voice, children singing, drumming circles, recorder playing, the foundational rhythmic & melodic patterns via echo work with children. My baby has moved with me as I danced with scarves, played walk-and-stop games, rocked to lullabies, and the list goes on. What a joy! —Jill M. Courtney, Bloomington, IN


    During my wife's pregnancy, I was teaching at a college in a very small town in Kansas. We did not have good television reception, so my wife watched videotaped episodes of Matlock while she did her chores. She continued this practice even after the birth of our daughter, especially during feeding time. As a newborn, our daughter quickly learned that when she heard the show’s theme song, food would soon be coming. If feeding did not commence shortly after the first strains of the tune, the cries would ring throughout the house. —Steve Elmore, Wichita, Kansas


    When I was pregnant with my daughter, I decided to sing and play the guitar until she moved. Finally, when I stopped, she kicked. The music was enjoyable and soothing to her. With kicking she was saying, “Don’t stop!” At two months old, during her first concert, she only cried between songs when the music stopped! —Bev Granoff, Tewksbury, MA


    I remember when I was pregnant that I always listened to music. When my husband and I would go to concerts in the park, or hear live music of any kind, my son would move all over my belly. I thought he didn’t like the music, that it bothered him, and that’s why he moved so much. Looking back now, I wonder if he was secretly jamming out and playing the air guitar or the make believe drums in my tummy. He has grown to be a talented musician, so I wonder if it did have something to do with what he heard in utero? —Tommi Rogers, Long Beach, CA

    Filed Under: development (42), parents (32)

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