Mamamia’s Rachel Curtis took her son to the Opera House for his first experience of live classical music.
Even before my baby was born I shared my musical hopes for him with a room full of strangers at a prenatal class.
The room nodded in agreement, we all wanted our unborn children to be musical. The Portuguese couple Pedro and Fatima agreed, so did the Spanish pair, Salvador and Alicia. It seemed to cross cultures – we all wanted our babies to speak a musical language.
So now that my baby boy is a toddler, I thought it was time to show some commitment to the idea.
On Saturday morning I took him to Sydney’s famous Opera House to start his musical journey at the Babies Proms.
The children got a chance to meet the musicians. Image courtesy Daniel Boud.
In a place where I had assumed babies wouldn’t quite belong, a room filled up with excited crawling, walking, bouncing, babies, toddlers and children. They owned the space, until the music began.
Arts and education expert, Professor Judith McLean, says children use sensory language predominantly until the age of two. She says exposing babies to music can help deepen their sensory language and expand and develop their “feelings state” - and she believes it's never to early to start.
"When you gurgle with your child, when your child gurgles with you and you extend that range, so you might make a noise and a child might repeat that back. It’s called matching. That is the beginning of music," she said.
"You’re beginning to show your children that their voices have range, have dynamism, have tone, can communicate."
The ensemble performed Vivaldi's Four Seasons. Image courtesy Daniel Boud.
The QUT Chair of Arts Education and QPAC Scholar in Residence says musicality begins "from the moment your child begins to connect with you and notice you".
Sensory language is said to be directly related to the limbic area of the brain and is where our feelings and emotions are developed and held.
So according to the professor, my 20-month-old son, Charlie, could be potentially forming some kind of “emotional vocabulary” from this live classical music experience.
Children were introduced to the instruments and their sounds. Image courtesy Daniel Boud.
Raising "a happy child".
I have no musicality, I can’t hold a tune, I can’t read music but I would love it if my son was musical. I sometimes sing nursery rhymes with him and Professor McLean tells me that can help release happy hormones.
"It’s one of the best ways to raise a happy child, to sing with them, because you’ve got feel good hormones just flooding the child and the parent together," says Professor McLean.