Spring is a time of welcoming new life, and what better season than this for early childhood educators to examine the influence of music on expectant mothers and their unborn children. In this issue of Perspectives, we take a broad look at music as therapy for the mother during pregnancy and music as aural stimulation for the prenate in the womb.
For our featured articles in this issue, we are pleased to welcome the contributions of Giselle Whitwell, who offers a unique look at the theoretical and practical foundation of her prenatal music therapy program; and of Lauren Kooistra, who presents an insightful literature review of studies dealing with the uses of music to reduce stress during pregnancy and labor. In addition, we are honored to introduce Andrea Apostoli, President of AIGAM (the Italian Gordon Association for Music Learning), and learn about the concerts he has developed for expectant parents through a project called “Music, Sound and Voice in the Mother-Child Relationship.”
With our emphasis on music during pregnancy, we are including a special section that highlights parents’ memories and recollections of musical events they shared with their unborn children. Sometimes, as educators, we are inclined to look solely at research-based evidence to substantiate the impact of musical stimulation in utero, all the while overlooking the possibility that incidental musical encounters between parent and child, before and after the child’s birth, can provide unique insights into the authentic and profound nature of a prenate’s response to and need for music.
Now that ECMMA members have access to Perspectives as an online publication, we encourage you to take advantage of the supplementary material available for this issue. For instance, as a bonus to the online version of the interview with Andrea Apostoli, you can watch a video of his prenatal/early childhood music program in Italy. Also featured exclusively online is an extended version of the book review by Dr. Rick Townsend of Wendy Anne McCarty’s book, Welcoming Consciousness: Supporting Babies’ Wholeness From the Beginning of Life.
From reviews of research-based studies that focus on music during pregnancy and music with the prenate to descriptions of practices and outcomes of prenatal music programs, the information shared in this issue represents a blending of research and practice. In sum, it is hoped that this coming together of the two will help early childhood music and movement educators feel better informed about how music affects pregnancy and the developing fetus, while also helping them feel stretched professionally as they consider innovative viewpoints and new opportunities.
Angela Barker, PhD
Editor's Note: Scattered throughout the magazine 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.