Nurul Wardah Ishak
Music is a necessity. It is a touch of magic in our everyday lives. I believe it encourages creativity and is a unique form of emotional expression. Thus, it is no surprise that expectant parents would love to introduce their child to the world with music in tow. Luckily enough for these parents, there are several educational toys that include or even emphasizes musical features. One of the said products is the Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes. Click here for the link to the toy. The toy is designed with a big handle and a colorful central button to cycle through several musical pieces. The musical pieces are from famous classical melodies such as Mozart, Vivaldi, Chopin, and Rossini. According to the website, this product is targeted for children age 3 months and up. The product claims to be beneficial for children because it will promote auditory development through classical music pieces. I chose this product because I believe this is one of many products that highlights the intriguing but important nature of music in a child’s development.
In regards to auditory development, newborn infants are able to distinguish various intensities and frequencies of sound as the auditory nerve and peripheral sensory system is basically mature by birth (Borstein, Arterberry & Lamb, 2014, p.154). Meanwhile, by 6 to 7 months, infants are already sensitive to features of music and are capable of discriminating pitch and timing (Borstein, Arterberry & Lamb, 2014, p.106). Since the product is targeted for 3 months old, I believe the effects will fall on deaf ears –pun intended- as infants respond to music by 6-7 months of age.
According to the product description, use of this device will boost auditory development through classical music. Though I couldn’t find a specific article that emphasizes on the effects of classical music, I did however come across an article that highlights the effects of music on auditory development. The goal of the study was to find structural brain differences in response to music training. The study sample consisted of 31 children who are randomly assigned into 2 groups; the instrumental group and the control group. The instrumental group, with the mean age of 6.32 years old, were subjected to private keyboard lesson. Meanwhile, the control group, with the mean age of 5.90 years old, were not subjected to musical training. The study was conducted in the period of 15 months. The participants were tested on a series of behavioral tests and an MRI scan of the brain at the start and end of the study. The behavioral tests were conducted to assess fine-finger motor skills along with music listening and discrimination skills. The study found that the instrumental group did significantly better in both finger motor sequencing task and the melodic/rhythmic discrimination test. Furthermore, the study also found a significant change over time in the instrumental group brain deformation. More specifically, they mentioned a deformation in the right primary auditory region and the right motor hand area of the brain. Therefore, the study proves that music does have a significant impact on brain development especially in terms of auditory development (Hyde et al., 2009).
Personally, I find that the claims that Baby Einstein Company makes on the Take Along Tunes to be well-founded on the aspect of musical benefits for young babies. As mentioned in the article, music has the ability to develop the auditory part of the brain (Hyde et al., 2009). But it is important to note that there’s a lack of research on the exact impact of classical music on infants’ auditory development. In fact, I have to point out that the study sample above did not include 3 month-old babies but younger children instead. However, I do believe the effects of music on the development of the brain can still be applied to them. In conclusion, this product is a convenient and adorable way to introduce a child to music.
- Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes. (2017). Toysrus. Retrieved 17 February 2017, from http://www.toysrus.com/buy/stroller-car-seat-toys/baby-einstein-take-along-tunes-30704-2967795
- Borstein, M., Arterberry, M., & Lamb, M. (2014). Development in Infancy, Fifth Edition (5th Edition) (5th ed., pp. 106, 154-156). New York: Psychology Press.
- Hyde, K., Lerch, J., Norton, A., Forgeard, M., Winner, E., Evans, A., & Schlaug, G. (2009). Musical Training Shapes Structural Brain Development. Journal Of Neuroscience, 29(10), 3019-3025. doi:10.1523/jneurosci.5118-08.2009