Cali's Books blog

Why is it so good to expose our babies to music? Proof by magnetoencephalography!

Why is it so good to expose our babies to music?

Music and mental development of the infant: proof by magnetoencephalography!

A neuro-scientific team from Seattle was interested in the influence of music on the electromagnetic activity of the brain in the infant. A population of 36 babies aged 9 months was divided into 2 equal groups.

  1. The first group was exposed for 4 weeks to 12 sessions of music exhibition in the form of children's songs.
  2. The second group served as a witness: the babies certainly enjoyed, like the others, small games of awakening adapted to their age. On the other hand, they had no right to music.
All were regularly monitored by magneto encephalography (MEG). This advanced technique allows to measure the electromagnetic activity of a precise region of the brain, at rest or during a stimulation.

When a new sound stimulation is applied, it gives rise to a specific wave: Mismatch Response (MMD). This MMD reflects the attention and learning effort of the baby in which it is recorded. It is significantly more extensive and lasts longer among young subjects exposed to music than those in the control group. This electrical phenomenon concerns the temporal areas, privileged place of treatment of the sound information and participates in the processes of attention and learning.

With a slightly different protocol, we find it in the cerebral areas of language and prefrontal areas involved in the development of logical reasoning. Beyond musical capacities, the exposure of a 9-month-old to music seems to favor the development of language, learning abilities and the ability to reason.

The virtues of the traditional lullaby are therefore not limited to their ability to put the child to sleep, but probably contribute to his good intellectual development. The Seattle team is considering continuing the study over the long term to see if the observed benefits persist over time.

Source: T.Christina Zhao and Patricia K. Kuhl (2015) "Musical intervention enhances infants' neural processing of temporal structure in music and speech PNAS 113 (19) 5212-5217

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kids piano

Interview with Robert Greenberg: Piano for kids

I contacted Robert Greenberg after reading his article on the Huffington post Bedtime Music: 10 Soothing Classical Pieces for Kids of Any Age, when we were working on our new book BEDTIME With Mozart and Other Greats.

As historian, composer, pianist and father of four, he's a strong advocate for teaching kids to play an instrument. Listening to music is very important but the practice of an instrument is crucial too. Our kids are very young and none of us are good musicians so I asked for his tips on how to introduce piano for kids and I found them super useful:

  1. Piano is a friend, the soonest you can expose your kid to the instrument is the best. It's nice that the piano is part of his natural environment before starting lessons. Young kids are very much attracted by the object and they'll use it as a game before using it as an instrument. 
  2. Buy a real piano, avoid the keyboard and invest in a second hand upright piano. I was surprised that the investment of having an upright piano in our living room is not as expensive as it was when I was a kid and it looks so much better.
  3. Don't start lessons too early, six years old is the youngest for a kid to start piano lessons. They involve discipline and daily practice, it's good to let them be kids and just have fun at the beginning.

What about your experience on teaching children instruments?

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Interview with Sandra Trehub: Why do interactive books make interactive kids?

Interview with Sandra Trehub: Why do interactive books make interactive kids?

I came across an article saying that singing is more efficient than speech at keeping infants calm and delaying the onset of crying, citing a new Canadian study. Newborns may benefit from a soothing tune, but for older babies and preschoolers it's better to choose something lively and familiar, such as "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" or "Old MacDonald Had a Farm", recommends study co-author Sandra E. Trehub, PhD.

I'm very interested in this topic, so I contacted Dr Sandra E. Trehub. She replied to my email and suggested to talk before I even had time to go through her very impressive list of publications. Listening to her was fascinating and helped me to understand our books better.

Older babies and preschoolers are soothed by nursery songs like "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" or "Old MacDonald Had a Farm" because the songs remind them the comforting feeling they had when they heard them from their care givers, often the mother. The soothing effect does not come from the nursery song itself but from the babies memory of hearing it and the familiar feeling associated with the song. The most important part in this process is the interaction between the caregivers and the babies. If you're not confident in your singing skills and if you want to avoid using phone or tablet, musical books help to create these precious musical moments with your little one. 

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Cali's Books blog

Hello and Thank you!

We started Cali's Books to share the joys of reading, singing and dancing to our children. This is an incredibly exciting journey we'd like to share with you.

In this blog, we'll discuss the highs and lows of starting our company, the great people we've met, the new places we've discovered, the research we read and our creative process... What else? We'll explore as we go.

Please tell us what you would like to read!!

Cali and Åsa


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