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Birth of the beat: 12-18 months

How do 12-18 month old children respond to music ?

 

Your baby is already a musical genius!  You’ll notice how much your baby loves novel sounds, songs and especially when you sing to her or read a rhyming story.  At 12-18 months your child is incredibly interactive and will start doing actions to songs they hear frequently.  

 

Here’s some evidence-based research so you know what your child loves and what they can do during music.

 

Music perception

By 12 months of age a child is increasingly interested in play songs over lullabies. The rhythm of a play song will usually be engaging and have a fast beat, with a much stronger sense of pulse than a lullaby. Play songs are usually in duple time which providing a strong rhythmic base to assist the child in organising and coordinating their movements to the song. 

Crescendo (getting louder) and accelerando (getting faster) are often incorporated into playsongs when the contour rises, and more diminuendo (getting softer) and rallentando (slowing down) when the contour falls. 

Play songs will also often include musical tension in the form of a pause at the peak in the melody and dynamic that heightens anticipation for the child. This is usually followed by a specific sound or action before the melody descends to finish the song.  Young children are capable of adjusting their physical movements to match the rhythm of the music, adjusting the speed of their movements to match changes in musical tempo.  

Play songs are usually accompanied by repetitive touch or movement that matches the melody or rhythm of the song. Concepts such as ‘fast’, ‘slow’, ‘high’, ‘low’ and ‘up’ or ‘down’ are frequently described in the play song and correspond to matching movements for the child to participate in.

Mothers repeatedly use the same small cluster of nursery songs and rhymes with their child. These songs are reproduced almost identically each time, with rhythm, pitch and tempo remaining constant across performances. This remarkable consistency of performance provides familiarity for the child and promotes language development through the repetition and recognition of the words in the lyrics. Repetition of these same songs also allows opportunities for the child to contribute her vocalisations in a rhythmically supported manner.

Responses to rhythm

By 12-18 months the young child is capable of manipulating and playing with elements of melody and rhythm in her vocalizations. Interestingly, the amount of vocalization, physical and rhythmic responses exhibited by the child may be less during new songs than during familiar songs as the child is totally engaged in processing the new musical material.

As the child’s mother or father sings songs to their child many times over, they provide the musical and rhythmic scaffolding for the child to gradually insert his own words and actions as his language and movement repertoire increases.

 Physically the young child is now able to engage in a much wider repertoire of movements to music such as running, jumping, bouncing, dancing, clapping, swaying, rolling, marching and swinging.  So you’ll notice at TLC Music that we start to do a wider range of actions as your child matures.