This past March was the first time my husband and I went on a trip...without our kids.
In 3.5 years, we had always managed to either take our children with us or coordinate our schedules so one of us was always home. But this was a conference we both needed to attend...without the kids. So we dropped them off with my mother for 5 days and went on our way.
A couple days into the trip, my mother shared a story about our oldest son ("J"), then 3.5 years old. Now J likes to sing. A lot. Not only does he like to sing, but he likes to improvise, too. His favorite songs are "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" and "Mary Had a Little Lamb." So he'll sing these songs, but make up his own words, usually singing about things he's seen or done. For example:
(Tune: Mary Has a Little Lamb)
We just take Daddy to work, Daddy to work, Daddy to work
Weeee take Daddy to work, We take Daddy to work
(Tune: Opening of Twinkle, Twinkle)
We go to the store.
We go to the store.
So mom and J were driving to the store and J was in the back seat, calm and happy. Suddenly, J breaks into song, singing "Twinkle Twinkle" with these words:
I love Mommy, I love Daddy
I miss my Mommy, I miss my Daddy
I was blown away. Here was this little toddler, a bundle of non-stop energy who can barely sit for 5 minutes and eat, and he was verbalizing his feelings? Through song?
I continue to be amazed by music and the power it has over our brains and bodies. We can use music to help our bodies move and to help jog our memory. Music can help us feel a certain way and it can help us focus on a task. And certain songs have powerful words that can make us feel difficult emotions we didn't want to feel or didn't know we needed to feel.
This effect music has on us starts early and continues throughout most of our lives. Children learn and grow academically, socially, and emotionally through music and other forms of creative play. Teenagers use music as a way to develop their identity and show the world who they are. Adults use music to set a mood, whether they need to be energized or relaxed.
It's said that our eyes serve as windows to our souls. But so does our music.
So as a parent, I plan to continue to listen to my children's songs and use that to see their soul and understand them better.
Follow me on Twitter @KimberlySMoore for daily updates on the latest research and articles related to music, music therapy, and music and the brain. I invite you also to check out my website, www.MusicTherapyMaven.com, for additional information, resources, and strategies.