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Diving Deeper - Lullaby and good night - hopefully... By Judy O'Neill

 “”Lullaby - A quiet song that is sung to children to help them go to sleep.” (Cambridge English Dictionary).

Do you sing to your child to help soothe and settle them in preparation for sleep? Your voice is incredibly precious to your child.

There have been numerous studies and research done on the neuroscience of singing to children from a very early age. Singing lullabies to your child assist in the bonding process and can signal to your child that it’s bedtime. Lullabies may also help develop your child’s listening skills and language development. Neuro-musical educator, Dr Anita Collins, details the effects of singing to your child in her recent book, “The Lullaby Effect”, which is also the name of her website.

As a mum of 3, a grandmother of 2 and a Mini Maestros teacher I have been singing lullabies since my first child was born over 30 years ago. Before I became a parent, I just presumed that I already knew thousands of lullabies. In fact, the only actual lullabies I knew were Rock A Bye Baby and Brahms’ Lullaby.

The song that became my go-to lullaby for my first child was a popular tune at the time by Toni Childs called Stop Fussin’ which was sung to him on repeat on many occasions when he was very young. The title was very apt at that time!

For my second child, my very small lullaby repertoire increased to include an old folk song by Peter, Paul and Mary called 500 Miles. My daughter also adored listening to her father sing a Tom Waits song called Rainbow Sleeves. It made such an impact on her that she went on to perform it beautifully many years later as part of her Year 12 Music Performance assessment.

When my third child was about 6 months old, he was fortunate to be sitting in a playpen in a recording studio while his father was recording Tiddas’ first EP. A song they later recorded was called Inanay which became his favourite bedtime song.

My two grandchildren love hearing Golden Slumbers. This is a beautiful lullaby which some of you have heard as part of Mini Maestros’ 6-15 month old program. A few nights ago, their mum sang the song that I sung to her many moons ago, 500 Miles, as mentioned before. They loved it and it has now been added to their favourites.

Recently, I asked my mum which songs she loved singing to me as a bub. They were Frere Jacques, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ral. This conversation then triggered memories of her own childhood, as she reminisced about the songs that were sung to her by her mother and her grandparents. I felt so privileged to share her strong musical memories with her.

As a Mini Maestros teacher since 1997, my lullaby repertoire has definitely expanded from when I started singing them to my eldest child! I have the great pleasure of singing many beautiful lullabies in classes, including Mini Maestros’ own Australian version of Hush Little Baby along with Said the Kind Kangaroo and Bye, Bye Baby, to name a handful.

For those of you in our 3-4 year old classes, you may have heard the clever and hypnotic lullaby composed by Jennifer Smith, Co-Director of Mini Maestros called Our Little Boat. Jennifer wrote this lullaby for her unborn child while she was pregnant.

I wonder if you remember being sung to as a child. Did you have a favourite lullaby?

What songs do you like to sing to your own child/ grandchildren? Do you sing a lullaby that has been passed down in your family through generations? Are they songs that you have composed yourself? Maybe they are traditional lullabies or maybe traditional lullaby tunes with the words adapted to make up your own unique version to sing to your child. Maybe you like singing current songs from your personal playlist, too. Do you sing lullabies in a language or languages other than English?

As we all know very well, life in general can be hectic, and even more so with children. I hope you are able to find a special lullaby moment with your child tonight at bedtime. I wonder what you will sing.....?

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