When babies emerge from the womb – and the familiar, steady sound of their mother’s heartbeat – their brains are primed to recognise patterns.
Patterns are everywhere, and recognising them will help your baby connect to and learn from their world. Patterns permeate our senses – they’re found in the faces we see and the objects we explore, in movement, language, nature and music. Your baby demonstrates their understanding of patterns as they experiment with cause and effect, recognise people and anticipate what will come next; they use their command of vocal patterns to imitate the sounds of language (including articulation and pitch).
In our Kindermusik class, patterns are experienced through rhythm and meter, tempo contrasts, dances, language and vocal play as well as through the routines established by our class activities.
A good grasp of patterns is vital to your baby’s academic success – subjects such as maths, science and reading are all bursting with patterns. When you sing, dance and play instruments with your baby, you are helping them experience the patterns in the beats, rhythms and melodies of the music. As your baby listens, their brain takes in each one in a new way, helping their mind make more vital neural connections which in turn helps them to become a curious and logical learner.
The benefits of pattern recognition, however, go beyond academics. Babies who learn to identify patterns are better able to predict what will happen next, which strengthens their sense of safety and belonging and makes them feel happier and more relaxed. (I just love seeing those big smiles when we sing the Hello Song and the babies recognise that class is about to begin!)
The early years are the optimum time for exposing your baby to a rich variety of musical tempi, rhythms and patterns. “Music education research indicates that children are more ‘open-eared when they are young; their music preferences are broad and amenable to extension.”*
Providing your baby with a variety of musical styles and patterns to hear and feel can be as simple as turning on your radio and dancing together. Have fun with different tempi – depending on your mood, your dance might be slow and stately or raucous and bouncy! Hearing and feeling music at different tempi helps your baby develop a sense of timing and learn to comprehend language and music and language at different speeds.
Try out some different musical styles and genres – classical, folk, pop or world music – and find out what your baby enjoys most. Your Kindermusik online materials are a great source of music. With each new unit theme you receive a new album of music including a variety of musical styles and genres – from folk songs to piano music, traditional nursery rhymes to classical music and everything in between. And, of course, your Kindermusik class activities provide you with many ideas and ways to explore patterns with your baby.
*“Bringing the World of Music to Your Child” by Constance L. McKoy, Ph.D., Tune In June 2003.