For this entry I have decided to share a personal note from one of the moms that took my class. As you may know I teach two distinct courses with the same goal: to support families in the very first weeks and months of their lives together.
Loving Song is a remarkably effective course - a series of four ‘mini concerts’ performed by moms and babies. The program used for this course is known as Musical Baby Bonding TM and it’s creator is Orly Zalel.
At first, I decided to become a MBB instructor because the idea of using music sounded like great fun. I was already working with families, teaching baby massage, so Musical Baby Bonding seemed to be an exciting addition to what I was doing. The more I teach the Loving Song classes, the more I discover the richness and power of the MBB program. It’s still brings a great deal of fun, but it’s becoming so much more than that!
ATTENTION ALL MOMS! Once you can break the ice of “I don’t know how to sing” or “I am a terrible singer”, you will discover a whole new world of powerful ways to connect with your baby. You will be able to see your baby learn and thrive right before your eyes. There is nothing more powerful than the “AHA” moment when you discover your baby DOES respond to what you have to offer. It usually happens just a few moments after you would have normally given up. One of the biggest realizations for many moms is how important it is to SLOW DOWN.
Give your baby time... observe... wait...
The best advice I would give to any mom - just slow down and observe.
And then slow down again....
The beautiful thing is that moms do get it. They experience it, they can feel it - the power of connecting with their child in a deeper and more meaningful way. Apart from learning new songs and rhymes, using new musical instruments and props, what they take away from the Loving Song course is the profound feeling of closeness and understanding of the baby. Every smile, every look, every coo they get from the baby is deserved and they, the moms, made it happen. There is no bigger reward for them and there is no bigger reward for me than to witness it.
I would now like to share a review written by Maria Rajanna, who recently took the Loving Song course. She works as a middle school teacher and was able to understand and appreciate the thread between positive interactions in the very beginning of life and academic performance and socio-emotional competence later on.
Remember: when we talk about brain development, just as in any construction project, only a stable, strong foundation will allow and support further building.
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"I participated in Marija's Baby Bonding Music class in Benicia with the expectation of learning a few songs to sing to my 4 month old, and meet a few more moms. The class did just that, but so much more was taught; the class was an opportunity to remind me that everyday objects can be used as one way to enhance babies giving parents their attention. From using multicolored and black and white plush toys for capturing the babies' attention while singing a welcome song to instruments made out of dried fruit seeds, "baby bonding" went beyond singing.
Marija emphasized that how we utilize our voices, eyes, touch, movement, and hearing (5 contacts) and slow down our face-to-face interactions with our babies will, in return, improve their focus on one skill, one sound at a time.
Also, research has shown the benefits of babies hearing music and/or participating in songs, but equally important is silence and how it paves the way for more intentional observation on one sound instead of being overstimulated by many sounds.
For example, Marija always included meditative walking in her sessions. And the power of simple meditative walking with a baby in tow worked wonders. With relaxed shoulders and taking mindful deep breaths, and holding my son facing out so he can see the room, I could immediately feel calm. In return, his wiggling, fussy body became quieted.
Even as a teacher myself, I practice silent mindfulness in the classroom with my students: showing an object or ringing a chime to signal students in the beginning of class to pause, slowly inhale and exhale, rest hands and feet where they lay, and be still. After 5 minutes of mindfulness, the mood in the classroom changes from feeling "overwhelmed" to "calm." The power of mindful silence works whether with a baby in my arms or in a classroom of 35 middle school students.
Lastly, speaking with Marija after class, she reveals that her intention is to provide mothers of all economic levels that space to bond with their babies so content and satisfying relationships can form between mother and child, not just til the next class, but throughout the baby's life. Therefore, the class sessions are structured, but not rigid and there are many opportunities for Q&A and giving/listening to advice. As a teacher in the classroom for nearly 10 years, the most powerful role model is the parent and I have seen what strong effective parent-child relationships look like and when a child has been ignored growing up. Marija hopes to create positive change with her specific skills and knowledge of caring/bonding for mothers and babies in the Bay Area, and I highly recommend in participating in at least one class series to be part of something wonderful in the journey of motherhood."
Maria Rajanna and baby Anaadi