A resource for parents and carers
Music is a wonderful tool that you can use to connect and share with your child, as we are all inherently musical and generally respond positively to the sound of music.
Musical awareness begins at a very early stage, from the time we are still in our mother’s womb. As babies we are exposed to music from our parents and other family members, and as we continue to grow it doesn’t take us too long to begin to develop our own independent relationship with music.
Your child has most likely experienced music in a range of different settings – at home with family, musical activities at school, preschool or childcare,and music shared with friends.
Music simultaneously stimulates most areas of our brain and therefore maximises a child’s engagement and enjoyment, in a gentle and fun way. Music can be used to create a positive and familiar auditory atmosphere for you, your child, and their siblings to interact with each other. You may also like to use relaxation music to help your child feel more comfortable when they are anxious or unsettled.
This fact sheet provides a guide for parents and carers in how to use music at home with children who are medically fragile. The activities suggested aim to maximise your child’s enjoyment of their daily routines.
It is important to note that while most children enjoy music, some may be overwhelmed with the stimulation. Their response to music may also vary from day to day. If your child displays signs of over-stimulation (i.e. frowning, crying, clearly telling you or gesturing “no”, or sudden physical changes in their body movements that appear uncomfortable, such as thrashing arms/legs), try switching off or turning the volume of the music down. You know your child best and will be tuned into whether they are enjoying the experience.
Music and family interaction
Here are some suggestions for integrating music into your family’s daily routines:
- Singing together can be a meaningful and fun experience for the whole family, and provide an avenue for creative self-expression and positive interaction. Choose songs that are favourites of your child, or hold special family meaning. It’s natural for some people to feel more comfortable singing than others. Rest assured that regardless of how you feel about your singing voice, you are surrounded by loved ones and your child will most likely feel comforted by the sounds created by their siblings and parents.
- Combine movement and music with your child. Monitor your child’s energy level during music time and if they are feeling up to it, you may like to encourage some gentle movement. This can be introduced in several ways – creative dancing, gentle swaying, or actions to familiar songs, all of which can be adapted to suit the position of your child (sitting, standing or lying down).
- Gentle touch/massage. It is important to note that not every child likes to be touched, and you are the best judge of your child’s preferences. You may like to try gently massaging your child while singing or playing relaxing background music. For more information on child massage, contact your occupational therapist or music therapist.
- Playing instruments with your child. Your child may enjoy playing a range of different instruments and making music together as a family. Instruments like bells and chimes that require minimal movement to activate a sound are a good place to start. Your child may also enjoy playing a drum or shaker. If they need help activating the sound, place the instruments close to them and hold their hand and wrist for support.
Ideas for music
- Favourite songs (used at school or home)
- Traditional cultural songs
- Gentle classical music
- Gentle music that you and your family enjoy
Music and relaxation
If it’s possible and suits your family’s lifestyle, choose a CD of relaxing music and play it for your child during rest time or to settle them at bedtime. We highly recommend playing the same music everytime you put your child to bed. If your child enjoys some background sound/music while sleeping, leave the music playing softly in the background.
Choice of music
Choose music that is gentle, slow, predictable and repetitive, with minimal change in melodic range and beat. We also recommend music with minimal drum beats and minimal “talking” (e.g. fast-paced pop songs may not be the most appropriate choice for relaxation time).
Positioning of music
Try to position the music at a central point, safely at the head of your child’s bed. If your furniture arrangement does not allow for this space, beside the bed at a volume similar to talking voices is fine.
- Music for Dreaming
- Nature sounds for relaxation & sleep
- First Love by Yiruma
- Dreams by Karin Schaupp
- Beachwalk by Michael Antcliff
- Meditations, Songs and Stories by Relax Kids.
Australian Music Therapy Association
Nursery rhymes on
t: 07 3068 2370
t: 07 3068 1111 (general enquiries)
In an emergency, always call 000.
If it’s not an emergency but you have any concerns, contact 13 Health (13 43 2584). Qualified staff will give you advice on who to talk to and how quickly you should do it. You can phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.