In the first week of my Babies class, I pointed out how much the babies were singing (cooing and ahh-ing on pitches all over the place), and I showed the grown-ups how to reinforce this singing by echoing the babies’ sounds back to them. One mom went home that night and listened for the baby-singing she might hear at home. Every time her 7-month-old baby cooed or toned, the mom sang those sounds right back to her. Most of the time, the baby just looked at the mom when she sang back, but at one point, this coo-and-echo game expanded into two full minutes of “musical conversation.” It went something like this:
Baby: “Aahhhh” Mom: “Aahhhh” (on baby’s pitch)
Baby: “Ooohhh” Mom: “Ooohhh” (on baby’s pitch)
Baby: “Yayaya” Mom: “Yayaya” (on baby’s pitch)
Well…you get the picture. We reinforce early “words” (language sounds) all the time, and this reinforcement has a profound impact on language development. We do this intuitively because we just know it works. By reinforcing early singing, this mom is supporting her baby’s music development in the same way that she supports language development, and it’s such a gift to her baby.
Listen for your baby’s (or toddler’s, or older child’s) singing. (You might think it’s just talking, but I bet it’s also singing!) Whatever sounds you hear, echo them back–both the syllable and the pitch. The more you echo, the more they’ll sing again, and again, and again. You might even end up with your own two minutes of singing.