Child Development and Music (cont.)

tanya14_msn: .Dr. Campbell, many of today's pregnant women put earphones over their stomach while their child is in utero. I've heard it has an effect on the fetus. What is the full extent of the effect on the fetus?

Campbell: There are varying reports, and research, on the prenatal concert hall. We do know how important it is for the mother, and the father, to sing, chant, read poetry, and stories, to the unborn child. I am certain listening to music at a moderate volume for 15 minutes at a time, once or twice a day, would be ample. In my new book "The Mozart effect for Children" I make suggestions on some of the prenatal repertoire, such as the Toy Symphony. I suggest for the mother to give equal time to listening themselves, and their child listening.

Moderator: What do you think pregnant women and new mothers should know about the role of music and its impact on their families?

Campbell: Music can be an oasis to bring the family and community together. Newborns do not hear sounds like we do. Their ears are still filled with liquid. Young babies need quiet time, as well as stimulation. Never be afraid to "sing song" to your child. Make up melodies for changing time, for eating time, and perhaps, the family meals should be a time where TV and radio are turned off, and simply a little Mozart in the background brings the community of the family to harmony.

tenuli_webmd: I understand that studying music has a positive effect on a child's math abilities. Can you explain the connection?

Campbell: Math is a very broad term. The earlier a child studies music, the more rhythmic integration, movement, and  learning about proportions in time space perception, strengthens the young brain. In over 1,000 American communities, early childhood music programs, such as music together, musicgarten, and kindermusik, provide parents and children with exceptional programs for developing mind and body integration. In the elementary years, playing an instrument and reading music assists in the overall development of the speech and movement, as well as language and math perception. Music is magical because it reaches multiple levels of neurostimulation simultaneously. However, I know of no studies that deal with calculus, trigonometry, and Mozart, other than anecdotal reports from college students who find Mozart's music beneficial during study.

candymay_webmd: At what age is it good to get your children into taking up a musical instrument? And is one better than another?

Campbell: The earlier the better for musical participation. Yet never force an instrument on a child. Suzuki violin is a wonderful way to train the ear, hand, and heart coordination. Rhythm instruments are good in preschool years, as well as a lot of singing. It is important for children to have some musical experience while in elementary school with instruments, while the brain can so easily form memory and movement patterns. Every child will be a little different.

candymay_webmd: Earlier you said having the child's surroundings quiet is good, but I've heard it's a good idea that you should get your child used to noises around the house, so that they sleep and don't wake up at every little noise?

Campbell: The ear, mind and body are extremely adaptable. My concern has been that we are creating an over stimulating atmosphere for our children. When there is too much stimulation, year after year, we often find a teen or young adult who is unable to sit still, deeply relax, and find a deep comfort in quiet. Later on this can bring on high blood pressure, strokes and heart conditions. I believe our schools and communities are loud enough, and want to be sure children know quiet as a part of their life, before tension overwhelms them.

Moderator: Do you really think music can make you more intelligent? If so, how?

Campbell: Yes. The rhythmic quality of music stimulates and activates the lower part of the brain stem systems. The harmonies of music, and the rhythm of these harmonies at times has an emotional response within the body. The melody, and tone color bring direct responses as well as text and language in music from the neo-cortex. Intelligence in the new millennium, I believe, will be judged on the children and families who are able to integrate knowledge and information with a healthy relaxed body, and be able to socially integrate it emotionally. Music prepares the brain and body for connection. And we are at the beginning of learning how to ask integrated questions about memory and intelligence. I know from my experience with the Guggenheim education project in Chicago, we were able to improve spelling almost immediately by using music and movement. Not as a gimmick, but as an integrated tool for the mind, voice, and the body to learn simultaneously. I speak of this clearly in my new book.

Moderator: Why are so many schools across the country cutting their music programs if music is so vital to a child's development, self confidence and intelligence?

Campbell: For the past many decades music has been referred to as only art, entertainment, and a thrill. Only in the last 15 years have we begun to see how organized auditory stimulation in the form of music has great inroads for developing neuro-connections for multiple purposes, such as linguistic vestibular, and kinesthetic integration.

sggoff_webmd: How much time in a week do you recommend a child should be involved with music?

Campbell: It depends on the child's age.

Campbell: Remember, all speech has musical qualities. The younger the child, the more chant, tap, and play. In preschool, I think there's a place for a song every hour or two, or a nursery rhyme with movement. It's not just music time, but remember, music is time. In early elementary school, the majority of games have musical qualities or elements within them. So I would like to see a little music for waking in the morning, music in the car, music at bedtime, as well as a 20- or 30-minute music class. But remember, this music is not for the child alone, it helps reduce stress and inspires moms and dads. 

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