Musical Storytelling from Birth

in Everyday Learning

Within a week of birth, babies and mothers begin a kind of musical storytelling. When mom or dad sing and chant rhymes to their infant, loving exchanges take place. Baby gets that precious sense of well-being.

“Babies are born with a musical readiness that includes a basic sense of timing and rhythm, “ declares Dr. Colwyn Trevarthen, a psycho-biologist. (University of Edinburgh). “Our brains possess a storytelling sense from the beginning. Infants intentionally prompt musical exchanges with adults. Infants know when they’re being invited by a grown up to interact,” Trevarthen says. “Within weeks of birth, mom and baby compose brief musical vignettes that turn up a budding relationship.”

When our children were infants, we began our own musical storytelling with songs and poems. Dad’s favorite was to chant The Grand Old Duke of York while gently bouncing a baby on his knee.  And when the baby was older, he’d swoop him up “to the top of the hill.” I loved clapping and tapping to the beat of nursery rhymes at playtime, bedtime, and even in the car. Enjoy the beat! The rewards are fantastic.

Birth of the beat by Bruce Bower, Science News, August 14, 2010

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