Readers share joys and concerns about lullabies and bonding

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, January 17, 2019

Text: Since the day he was born I've held his heart in mine through a lullaby. It's magic! —Tami Leigh

Marlis McDouall’s love of lullabies and their special place in cuddly, heart-to-heart bonding, and her concern that lullabies are in danger of becoming forgotten treasures in our high-tech world (last week’s column) are shared by many of our readers. Here are just a few of the amazing responses I’ve received:

Judy Sikorski, of Cochrane, writes: “Sadly, so true! Our future generations need to nurture from the motherly/fatherly heart, and not from the motherboard of technology!”

Tami Leigh, of Calgary, writes:

“Sometimes the sound of love is in the holding, touching, looking, and searching one another, and in that we find the presence of spirit, bond, interconnect and grow strong. I sing to my grandbabies one lullaby especially when they need to sleep. It works every time.

“My 4 year old grandson didn’t want to go to bed one night. Got him up to his room, in jammies and read some stories. When I started to sing he covered my mouth and said, ‘No Nana! I don’t want to sleep!’ I laughed and sang a couple minutes later and before the second verse he was out like a light. Another time I did it over the phone for him. He cannot stay awake when I sing it. Since the day he was born I’ve held his heart in mine through a lullaby. It’s magic!”

Eva Hoffman, of Cape Cod, Mass., retired educator, has witnessed the loss of lullabies.

“Having taught most recently elementary music in 2003, I firmly believe that lullabies being commonly used were probably dead to our culture by the early 60s at the latest, along with their sense of musicality. My reasoning? I have asked innumerable parents along the way if they sing to their children and 99 per cent say, ‘No, I can't sing.’ When I’ve asked if they were sung lullabies to, they seemed usually not even to know what they were!

“I firmly believe that, when simple tonalities are hummed or sung to young infants, this places the sense of musicality in the child's brain, a repertoire which can easily be called upon as the child grows. A college professor friend of mine used to start by mimicking baby ‘lah lah’ sounds which his young babies made. Then he would expand on those notes by one pitch. His babies were usually able to sing back to him a simple tune by eight months!

“My students, ages six through nine years, could not carry their voices up an eight note scale. I would practically stand on my head, using every device I could dream up to get them to move their voices around. I firmly believe that because we have so deeply ‘dummied down’ the true value of quality music in our society, that no one hears really beautiful music which is tonal. Now, all the popular culture is glitz and glam and loud and ‘aren't they wonderful!’ no matter what the horrifying sounds are coming out.”

Kathleen Adamson, a retired Middle East antiquities scholar from Ontario, shares Eva’s concern for musicality. She recommends exposing a child to lullabies and good music even before birth.

“When I was expecting our son Michael, I used to play tapes of Mozart and other soothing classical composers while resting in the afternoon. He often was kicking and carrying on, but when the music started, he became very restful and contented.  The music in our case worked miracles! He was a very happy baby, despite his ill health from his eye issues, and I am sure the music and follow-through with more music were beneficial.

“I am sure the above relates also to the habit we had of reading to him from the time he came home from the hospital, not that he grasped the story early on, but the sound of your voice, the repetition of the words with pictures and the holding them close to you, relates to the lullaby question.”

READING TO INFANTS while cuddling them? Hmmm…. Does this suggest another column? Stay tuned.

© 2019 Warren Harbeck

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