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Strengthen Communication and Family Relationships through Music

I recently read about an awesome study where interactive music-making was compared to listening to "Baby Einstein" CDs. The results were quite fascinating!

The babies who participated in live music-making as compared to recorded music showed, "larger and/or earlier brain responses to musical tones,...[and] better early communication skills, like pointing at objects that are out of reach, or waving goodbye."


"Socially, these babies also smiled more, were easier to soothe, and showed less distress when things were unfamiliar or didn't go their way."


This study clearly shows the importance of making music! When we engage in live music our brain and body respond in a manner that is more impactful than recorded music. It is interactive live music that can help a child grow in so many aspects.

Our music therapist, Catherine, recently wrote a post about Why Live Music is More Powerful Than Recorded Music . Be sure to check that out!

One of the main difference between recorded music and live music is the RELATIONSHIP. When making music with others our body responds in an amazing way. Many parts of our brain are activated and neurochemicals are released. Most importantly in this context, oxytocin and dopamine are released. Oxytocin creates a strong connection with our fellow music makers. Dopamine is a checmical that motivates us.


Because of dopamine, if you have a child with ADHD or other challenges where focus is difficult, LIVE music can be a game changer.


While I recommend contacting a music therapist if you want a specialist who understands how music can meet your child's specific needs, YOU can use music at home to your child's benefit.

You may already be a singing diva, singing your way throughout the day with your child. That's awesome!!! If not, I strongly encourage you to begin singing with your child!

If you feel awkward singing, just think about all the "good stuff" going on in your child's brain!


Have you seen this viral video, showing how little Bo has gained 12 words over the past 3 months through the use of music???

There are a few great things to note in this case...

Notice, (1) how live music allows the sister to change pace to meet Bo's needs. (2) Live music also allows for wait time, when our child may need to process the request to sing a word. (3) I also love how music in itself can be an auditory prompt. So you don't have to say, "sing here", it is understood that when the music stops you fill in the blank. Think about all the processing that is going on in the brain to understand that indirect prompt!

Check out the video below!

( *Watch here if video doesn't load!!! )


Try these seven easy ways of making music with your family thus week. Don't worry too much about it being a great "musical experience" if you feel you "can't carry a tune". That's not what's important here. ;) Focus on the fun and enjoy spending time with your child while helping them grow!

7 Ways to Strengthen

Communication skills

Try to make it a family ritual to sit down

(stand up, march, dance, etc.) and make music!

1. Find Instruments: You don't need anything special. Grab a box or a pan and spatula and make some silly music together! You can even just tap on the floor or table! As you play, sing about your child's actions. Pick a familiar tune or make one up..."You tap the pot, tap the pot, tap the pot", etc. Repeating words and phrases is ideal so your child gets lots of practice with new words.

2. Use Live Music: In this way, you can slow down or speed up music to suit your child in the moment. You can also vary the volume to keep your child engaged. See how your child responds when you whisper or sing very quietly. If you are working on communication, pause at the end of sung phrases to see if your child will "fill-in-the-blank". For example, "The wheels on the bus go round and...." This allows for repeated practice and gives an auditory cue without adding excess prompting.

3. Use Songs You Know: For younger kids, start with simple nursery rhymes. If you have older kids, folk songs often lend themselves well to singing as a family. But really, any song you enjoy will allow you to share that love and joy with your family! Take requests! ;) Again, allow your child to fill in the last word in the song's phrase.

4. Learn New Music: If you're up for something new, first learn a song with the CD, then try singing without it! Acapella (singing without accompaniment) is OKAY! ...Hey, they made a couple movies all about it! This will help you be flexible with the speed and volume of the music so you can follow your child's lead.

5. Busta' Move: Kids LOVE movement! This is a good time to get out energy in a structured way. Make up some dance moves and have your child repeat them. You can also ask your child for movement suggestions (clap hand, stomp feet, wiggle, etc.)! Or do a popular movement song such as "Happy and You Know It". Motor movements get the brain "revved" up for language learning.

6. Use Music All Day: One of my favorite things to do is chant or make up silly songs with my kids. I'll sing about what I'm making for dinner or the chores that I'm finishing up. They always get a kick out of it (well almost always)! Using music throughout the day to describe objects and events is a KEY step to increasing language!

7. End on a Calm Note: Lastly, be sure to sing a calmer song as your music time is coming to a close to help your child regulate. I'm sure you can think if several lullabies that might work! I love the lullaby collection from Music Together. <<<---You can listen free of Spotify! They even offer activity ideas HERE for each song!

One of my favs!

For more ideas check out my video with Learn With Adrienne!

...but most importantly,

Have fun!!!


Live interactive music-making has the power to increase communication and social skills as well as increase parent-child bonding and self-regulation.


Want to learn more?

If you're looking for insight in to addressing your child's needs through music,

I'd love to meet you for a free consultation!


Happy music making!

Noel Anderson, MMT, MT-BC

#communication #speech #language #musictherapy #kids #babies #toddlers #tunefultots #group #musicmaking #sensory #selfregulation

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