Friday, April 19, 2013

Music for Babies

Credit: NYTimes

I read this very sweet and touching story in the New York Times a few days ago that I'd like to share.  The article is about how music can soothe and calm babies who were born too early, and how music therapy has become a way for premature babies to begin to acclimate to life outside the womb, a reality they weren't quite ready for. Here's a quote from the piece:

"The researchers concluded that live music, played or sung, helped to slow infants’ heartbeats, calm their breathing, improve sucking behaviors important for feeding, aid sleep and promote states of quiet alertness. Doctors and researchers say that by reducing stress and stabilizing vital signs, music can allow infants to devote more energy to normal development."

This is a really beautiful discovery. As a musician, and a hopeful someday mother, I've always been fascinated by the idea of playing music for babies still in the womb. Remember that lovely scene in Mr. Holland's Opus where Mr. Holland plays music to his pregnant wife's belly? I was also so moved when I learned that pianist Simone Dinnerstein (made famous by her recording of the "Goldberg" Variations) decided to learn this magnificent work to accompany her pregnancy, so that her baby would be surrounded by Bach for the 9 months he was inside her. 

How wonderful that music therapists have discovered just how useful and restorative music can be to these fragile newborns, who are outside of their mother's protective bodies but not yet ready for the real world. 

If you read the article I'd love to know what you think.


  1. Mr. Holland's Opus makes me cry so much! Ooohhh soo good.

    That article was really interesting! There's something so intimate about holding an infant and singing softly to them, and it's neat that research is showing that it truly does help them to thrive during such a vulnerable time.

  2. Just found your blog, and I'm really enjoying it! I'm a musician as well (cellist) and I'm about to have my first baby. It has been a lot of fun to see how she responds to music in the womb! I can't wait to see how things go when she is on the outside :) Thanks for sharing the article!

  3. I love that movie too :)

    I love the way you worded that last sentence, so beautiful!

  4. Hi Leslie! Welcome! And congratulations on your first baby! How exciting. She's lucky to have a cellist as her mama--one of the most beautiful instruments I think :)

  5. I was glad to read that the article emphasized that the music be LIVE. So many parents buy cd's for their kids but check out of the music making process. If a little preemie baby can feel and hear the rise and fall of their mom's breath as they sing that seems so intuitive and restoring! Research also suggests their is health benefits in skin to skin time with infants so it's great to read that health care professionals are seeing music as another tool in empowering mom and dad and strengthening the baby as they adapt to this new world.

    The music pacifier (linked to the article) seemed clever but made me a little leery because I would think mom's breast milk would be a priority with establishing a good latch, connection. However, I don't know a lot about preemies and if the mom's milk hasn't come in their is a challenge. The mention of it though almost seemed ironic. Here was this great article talking about the power of the human voice and it's healing abilities through music and then they are touting new technology that plays a women's chorus (not it's mother singing).

    Have you heard Dinnerstein play the "Goldberg Variations? I had never heard of her before but I love it when people succeed and haven't necessarily played by all the appropriate conventions, which is typical in the classical world.


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