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For Families & Kids

Music Moments

Welcome to Music Moments, a series of activities for families with babies to connect, play, and grow! Created for Carnegie Hall’s Big Note, Little Note program, these activities will show you how to engage with your little one through musical play, singing, songwriting, and more.

Let’s get started!

Music Moment Videos

Big Note, Little Note: Movement

Movement

Opening Question: At what time of day is your child most content? Make a note of this as you plan your activity—but keep in mind that you’ll want to give your child a chance to digest if just fed before doing any movement.

Activity
Tummy time fun! Sing one song that you know with your child lying in tummy time position.
  1. Place your child on their tummy.
  2. Lie down on the floor facing your child.
  3. Make sure you can see each other’s faces, eye to eye.
  4. Sing your favorite song while looking at your child.

Or, lie on a bed or sofa and place your baby on your chest in tummy time position, facing you, and sing. Always hold your child firmly for safety.

Always supervise your child when doing tummy time: You never know when tummy time will start to work and your baby will begin to roll over!

Fun Fact!

Singing with your child during tummy time will help their endurance! Tummy time helps your baby build strength in their neck, shoulders, arms, and midsection. This will help your baby learn to roll, sit, and crawl.

Online Resources

Zero to Three
“What You Need to Know About Tummy Time” by Jodie Fishman

Nationwide Children’s
“Tummy Time”

Mama Natural
“Why Is Tummy Time Important?” by Genevieve Howland

Soothing, Part One

Opening Question: What time of day can you find time to soothe yourself? When does your child need soothing the most? Make a note of this as you plan your activity.

Activity
  1. Find a moment in your day for YOU. Try to take three deep breaths to calm yourself or practice breathing exercises as you ready yourself for sleep.
  2. Take one lullaby or one song that you know and slow it down to use during a moment when your child needs soothing.

Remember: When soothing your child, you can use words, sounds, and movement. Babies often find gentle humming very soothing, which can be a good option, especially if your child is over-stimulated.

Fun Fact!

Babies are often comforted by gentle, repetitive movement, and—you guessed it—sounds! Practicing this kind of activity right before bedtime can lead to a longer and deeper sleep for your baby. Try rocking your child while singing, or try singing while you take a slow walk around the room when they need soothing.

Online Resources

You can find hundreds of lullabies written by parents and caregivers in New York and around the world at soundcloud.com/carnegiehalllullaby.

Rockabye Baby! creates lullaby versions of popular songs by celebrity musicians such as Katy Perry, Snoop Dogg, Lady Gaga, Drake, and others. Find their albums at rockabyebabymusic.com/collections/music. You can also find their music on Spotify when you search for “Rockabye Baby!”

Connection

Activity
  1. Start a musical conversation with your child. If your baby makes a sound, either mirror that sound or respond with another sound. See what happens if you make it longer or shorter. Try singing the sound.
  2. Sing an interactive song with your child such as “This Little Light of Mine” or another song that you know. Try using hand motions to connect.
Fun Fact!

When you sing to your baby, you are soothing them and helping to form strong connections. This helps promote your baby’s social and emotional growth, builds their vocabulary, and more.

Online Resources

University of Miami via ScienceDaily
“Mothers and infants connect through song”

National Association for the Education of Young Children
“Ten Ways Babies Learn When We Sing to Them” by Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer

Play

Opening Question: What time of day does your child seem most content, alert, and happy? Make a note of this as you plan your activity.

Activity

Sing a play-based song with your child this week. Try “Peek-a-Boo,” “Patty Cake” (adapted for babies), “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” “Wheels on the Bus,” or take it up a notch and create your very own song!

Fun Fact!

Play is key to your child’s learning, development, confidence, and well-being. You can turn an everyday routine like diaper-changing or feeding into a fun musical moment: Try a playful song during a diaper change (safely), or sing during bath time.

Online Resources

Fatherly
“The Nine Funniest Songs for Infants (and their Parents)” by Alicia Kort

Zero to Three
“Play Activities for Birth to 12 Months” by Claire Lerner and Rebecca Parlakian

Raising Children (Australia)
“Why Play Is Important”

Language

Opening Question: Did you know that even before babies can talk, they are learning language? Think about how and when you talk and sing to your baby throughout the day. What do you talk to your baby about?

Activity
  1. Sing a song to your child in a language you don’t normally use with them.
  2. A few times a week, when you are talking to your child, try singing the words instead. What do you notice?
Fun Fact!

Singing to your baby helps them learn how to talk and builds their ever-growing vocabulary.

Online Resources

Fluent in 3 Months
“Sing Your Baby Bilingual!” by Jackie Colchester

Harvard Medicine
“A Way with Words” by Susan Karcz

Think Bilingual
“Sing and Ye Shall Learn! Why Singing Is Important for Language Acquisition”

Songwriting

Activity

Write a four-line song for your child using the tune of a familiar song, and try singing it to them at different moments throughout the day.

Fun Fact!

Parents have been singing to their babies since the beginning of time. The oldest documented lullaby dates back to the time of the ancient Babylonians, around 2000 BC. That’s 4,000 years ago!

Online Resources

BBC News
“The Universal Language of Lullabies” by Nina Perry

YouTube
Trailer for Brown Baby Lullaby by Tameka Fryer Brown

Brain Building

Activity
  1. Try having a musical conversation with your child. When your child communicates using words, sounds, and facial expressions, sing your response back to them. Keep the conversation going! You can do this during diaper changes, feeding, or while taking a walk outside. You can also sing about what you’re doing and seeing along the way.
  2. Sing a counting game with your child this week. Think “Ten in a Bed (Roll Over),” or “Where Is the Beehive?,” etc. You can find more counting songs at allnurseryrhymes.com/nursery-rhymes/counting-songs.
Fun Fact!

When you sing with your baby, all 12 parts of their brain are at work. The sound, rhythm, words, and connection all help your baby’s brain grow and develop.

Online Resources

Pegasus: The Magazine of the University of Central Florida
“Your Brain on Music”
(Scroll down the page for a cool interactive exploration of music and the brain!)

Parent Map
“Brain-Building Games and Activities for Your Baby” by Kathryn Russell Selk

Harvard University Center on the Developing Child
“Five Steps for Brain-Building Serve and Return”

Soothing, Part Two

Activity
  1. Find a moment in your day for YOU, and try one or more of the following:
    1. Create a simple song that soothes you.
    2. Create a musical mantra* for yourself.
    3. Listen to your favorite song.
  2. Make up one phrase to soothe your child. For example: “I love you; it’s time to sleep,” or “I hear you cry; mommy’s here,” and sing it any which way you like at bedtime or whenever your child needs soothing.

*A mantra is a simple statement that you can repeat to feel good like “I am calm,” or “I am brave.”

Fun Fact!

Singing or playing an instrument helps reduce stress levels. When you sing, you are helping yourself and your baby to slow your heart rates and breathing rates and lower your blood pressure.

Online Resources

Michigan State University
“Music’s Role in Mindfulness” by Maria Millett

Pocket Mindfulness
“Six Mindfulness Exercises You Can Try Today”

Free Mindfulness Apps
Insight Timer
Smiling Mind
UCLA Mindful App

Rhythm

Activity

Make musical rhythms with your child this week. Clap or drum along to your favorite song. Pots and wooden spoons work well, or you can put some rice in a jar or container to make your very own shaker!

Fun Fact!

Having fun with rhythm helps babies develop their large muscles and supports their language skills, too. All language has a rhythm and rhyme to it, and with practice, babies will recognize both!

Online Resources

Fatherly
“How to Use Patty-Cake and Miss Mary Mack to Teach Rhythm” by Matthew Utley

Daily Mail
“Babies Have a Sense of Rhythm”

Futurity
“Musical Rhythm Helps Babies Find Patterns in Speech” by Molly McElroy (University of Washington)

Lead funding is provided by The ELMA Music Foundation (U.S.) and an anonymous donor through support for the Lullaby Project and Early Childhood Programs.

Music Moments were developed in collaboration with Saskia Lane.

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