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‘It’s my voice’ Mothers’ views on the usefulness of singing to support early communication Alison Street: EECERA, August 2007.

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Presentation on theme: "‘It’s my voice’ Mothers’ views on the usefulness of singing to support early communication Alison Street: EECERA, August 2007."— Presentation transcript:

1 ‘It’s my voice’ Mothers’ views on the usefulness of singing to support early communication Alison Street: EECERA, August 2007

2 Music in PEEP Songs and rhymes provide: Opportunities for play with voice, sound and gesture; Recognition of reciprocal expressiveness; Interaction in groups and 1 to 1; Modelling of repertoire and singing.

3 The Research Questions How and why do mothers sing to babies? How does singing influence engagement? How do mother’s attitudes to singing impact on their perception of their role?

4 Literature 1: Singing Documented contours of infant-directed speech; Fernald: 1989, Papousek: 1996 Acoustic studies in laboratory settings of sung-through songs to infants. Trehub et al: 1997

5 Literature 2: Communicating Communication as a continuous process where adult and baby develop understanding through co-regulation; Fogel: 1993 Communicative musicality; Trevarthen: 2000 Music is helpfully flexible and ambiguous. Cross: 2005

6 Two studies Study 1: Questionnaire – 104 mothers in well baby clinics: Results: all said that they sing to their babies; to soothe or make them laugh. Study 2: Observation Study using video recording and recall

7 Study 2: Method 16 mothers recruited in family centres and health clinics; Babies 4-11 months old; Recorded in home or family room; Mothers asked to talk, sing and play for 3 minutes; Video playback with recorded commentary.

8 Singing Types Rhythmically repeated word, ‘Boo’ Sung speech Sound sequence Wordless tune Chant and Song

9 Levels of engagement Scale A = Ambiguity B = Bilateral/conflictual C = Consensual (most reciprocal) (based on systemic view of family therapy: Fivaz- Depeursinge, (1991) Family Process, 30: )

10 Analysis Time sampling: 30 second intervals to make broad sweep across data to provide profiles of individual pairs Event sampling: reliability check Micro-analysis of I dyad: Clare and daughter Britney (37 weeks) detailed description during 225 seconds

11 Observer’s interpretations Most reciprocal engagement (C) occurred during sustained singing or measured voice play. Voice play acts as a bridge between engagement levels – imitating, varying and extending.

12 Analysis of commentaries: emerging themes singing process - ways of relating - beliefs about role Sources Self concept About singing types Themes in order of occurrence Rocognition of engagement Baby’s responses Mother’s intentions Mother’s awareness of supportive role in development

13 Mothers’ interpretations How? ‘singing is about exaggerating’ ‘being the movement’ ‘silly expressions with your eyes and mouth wide /absolute rubbish’ (for) ‘catching his attention - I hold the first note’ What? TV adverts, musical toys, football songs, other relations, friends

14 ‘I think it calms me down as well actually. If he’s crying and I’m getting agitated it’s, well, he’s getting agitated. It probably works for both of us because I feel as if I’m doing something that … that he finds soothing…And if he responds of course, it’s really rewarding. And also it’s nice that it doesn’t matter that I can’t sing. That’s not the issue, the issue is that it’s my voice and ______that’s nice that, that’s …and that’s why I would never normally sing in any other environment because I know I can’t sing, like - a lot of people can’t, but of course that doesn’t matter to A, that’s not what he’s interested in’.(Lydia)

15 Conclusions Singing types emerge within interaction where timing and quality is contingent on the baby’s and the mother’s responses. Mothers prefer privacy. Mothers sing to communicate emotions and to regulate their own feelings. Singing provides voice play.

16 Implications for practice with parents To value and build on dialogue between parent and practitioner, that recognises: vocal expressions and singing practices at home; the meanings parents give to their infants’ responses; parents’ interpretations as opportunities for discussion about interacting, about being a model, and about rationale.

17 References Cross, I. (2005) Music and meaning, ambiguity and evolution. In D. Miell, R. MacDonald & D. J. Hargreaves (eds) Musical Communication, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Fernald, A. (1989) Intonation and communicative intent in mothers’ speech to infants: Is the melody the message? Child Development, Vol. 60, pp Fogel, A. (1993) Developing through relationships. Origins of communication, self and culture. Hertfordshire, UK. Harvester Wheatsheaf.

18 References cont’d Papoušek, M. Intuitive parenting: a hidden source of musical stimulation in infancy. In I. Deliège and J. Sloboda (eds.) (1996) Musical Beginnings. Oxford, UK.: Oxford University Press. Trehub, S. E., Unyk, A. M., Kamenetsky, S. B., Hill, D. S., Trainor, L. J., Henderson, J. L. & Saraza, M. (1997). Mothers’ and fathers’ singing to infants. Developmental Psychology, Vol. 33, pp Trevarthen, C. (2000) Musicality and the intrinsic motive pulse: evidence from human psychobiology and infant communication. Musicae Scientificae, Special Issue, pp


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