Incorporating musical activities during the daily care of an infant: a case study of a mother

Μαρία Παπαζαχαρίου-Χριστοφόρου

Προφορική Ανακοίνωση

Session Μουσικές εμπειρίες δια βίου μάθηση και ευζωία ( Sunday, 17-Apr-22 13:15:00 EEST )

Musicality is evident from infancy and as reported by Dionyssiou (2018) "is defined as a natural tendency of children to music, which is expressed either as a physical need to coordinate with music, or as an expression of music in the body , while at the same time it is accompanied by pleasure and expression of emotions "(Dionyssiou, 2018, p. 55). 

According to Trevarhten and Malloch (2017), infants show complex musical sensitivities and a willingness to share them from birth with those around them (parents or caregivers). They tend to express themselves musically using babbling, chants, vocalizations, aiming to communicate emotions and narratives (Trevarhten & Malloch, 2017), in a process of coordination, arousal and attention which is defined as communicative musicality. Drawing from the theory of communicative musicality (Malloch & Trevarthen, 2009) and the position that music as a socio-cultural practice strengthens the bond between infants and parents / caregivers (Trevarthen, 2002), promoting social and emotional skills (Barrett, 2009), and at the same time the well-being of mothers (Roberts, 2010), the present study focuses on the investigation of a case of a mother from Cyprus who used musical activities in her daily care of her baby. The study explored the experience of a mother, who employed musical activities in the everyday care of her infant. It investigated the ways in which musical activities were incorporated in her baby’s daily care and her perceptions and thoughts on the value of integration of music during the first months of her maternity for her and her infant. To fully understand the experience of this participant concerning the use of music with her baby, I addressed two research questions: (1) How does the mother describe the use of music and movement with her infant? (2) How does the mother describe the value of musical engagement for her and the infant? 

Over a period of 4 months, the mother participated in a series of workshops (12 sessions) specifically designed for women in the last trimester of pregnancy and mothers with infants (0-12 months), which aimed to inform and educate participants regarding the ways they could incorporated musical activities in everyday routine with their baby. The activities presented to the mothers included songs (lullabies and play songs), Greek tachtarismata, movement activities, rhythmic chants and dancing. 

Data were collected between February 2021 an July 2021through qualitative research methods as follows:

  • Field notes were collected during the 12 online sessions of the teaching program
  • Three 40-minute, semi-structured interviews took place online (due to COVID-19 measures) with the mother (at the beginning, middle, and the end of the project), allowing flexibility in gaining information from the participant and as an extension to the field notes
  • The mother was asked to keep a reflective journal during the project, to report and describe her experiences and their value; also to make videos filmed on different occasions with her and the baby during musical activities, which supported her descriptions. Ten short videos were collected, showing her musical interaction with the baby (e.g., singing a lullaby, changing the diaper while chanting, etc.).

All data were archived and coded, in an immersion process aiming to articulate the themes that answered the research questions. Multiple data collection supported triangulation, ensuring the validity and reliability of research results. The thematic analysis showed that the use of diverse musical activities by the mother transformed the daily care of her infant into a significant and meaningful task that was highly valued by her. Data suggested that the musical communication between the mother and baby, was alive at all times during each day and fostered the father’s involvement, providing him the opportunity to construct a musical relationship with his baby. According to the mother, music became a medium that bonded family members, supporting a pleasant atmosphere at home, and facilitating the baby's upbringing. Cross check of data showed that musical activities modulated and assisted her infant in the daily routine. The mother participant integrated musical activities to accompany sleep, bath, feeding, diaper change, and entertainment, in order to regulate the infant’s emotional state. The research findings support previous research, revealing  that musical communication in infancy offers a powerful framework for assisting the infant’s daily care, enhancing emotional bonding between mother and infant and fostering mother’s well-being.

  • Μουσικές εμπειρίες, δια βίου μουσική μάθηση και ευζωία
Keywords communicative musicality, mother-infant musical interaction, music during infant's daily care
Language Ελληνική
Author(s) CV

Dr Maria Papazachariou – Christoforou, is a music educator and currently a Lecturer in Music Education at the Department of Arts at the European University of Cyprus. She directs and teaches courses in undergraduate, postgraduate and doctorate program in Music Education at European University Cyprus, and she is the Coordinator of the Ph.D. program in Music.  She has worked in Public Primary Education in Cyprus as a music educator and served also from the position of Director Officer at the Pedagogical Institute Cyprus for Music Education in Early Childhood and Primary Education.Her research interests include sociological dimensions of music pedagogy, music education in early childhood, informal music learning and lifelong music engagement and wellbeing. She is the director of the LifeLong Music Engagement Research Unit at the Centre of Excellence in Research SOSCIEATH at European University Cyprus.