George: “Hey, Mum, thanks for this cool, colourful play mobile. It is keeping me amused and entertained. I can see the pretty colours and different shapes. I can’t take my eyes off the moving objects.”
George goes on. “When you scrunch up the paper-sounding mobile and squeeze the squeeky mobile the sound makes me want to look at the mobile more carefully. This way I my mind is really occupied trying to listen and look at the same time.”
Looking, focussing, listening and developing curiosity are all basic skills for musicians. Baby George is being encouraged to think. Babies may lie looking at a hanging mobile but their experience is enhanced when we move the mobile for them and make noises at the same time. I call this “layering the information”.
We can easlily start this process in baby’s early weeks. For instance we naturally seem to wave and sing “goodbye” at the same time, perhaps not conciously knowing that we are reinforcing the message. Clapping whilst smiling or laughing gives a layered or reinforced message of happiness. Applying this simple layering technique with as many daily activities as possible helps baby connect with and understand the world around him. Conciously repeating these music lesson preparation ideas benefits baby in every way, not just musically.
Even touching and moving George’s legs whilst singing at the same time gives him a more complete sensation than touch alone, or singing alone. The layered combination of touch, listening and looking not only prepares George for music lessons but for all future learning.
Appling this idea to music students means they can just look at music notes or they can listen to a CD of the music and look at the notes at the same time. The simple layering of information (listening whilst looking) makes it easier for them to learn their music.