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Lady Lullaby Blog

Lullabies for babies, grown-ups and everyone in between!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Music as Medicine for Premature babies

"Historically, premature infants were thought to be best off left alone in a quiet, closed incubator with no stimulation," said Joanne Loewy, director of Beth Israel's Louis Armstrong Center for Music & Medicine, in an interview with CBS News. "In more recent times, we're seeing that the right kind of stimulation -- particularly live, interactive music -- can enhance babies' neurological function and increase their quiet-alert state. It helps them through those tough moments...”

A new study published online in Pediatrics on April 15 has shown that lullabies and other music therapies have many benefits for premature infants, giving them a better chance at a healthy life.

Babies usually hear the mother’s heartbeat 26 million times before birth, so in this study a wooden instrument called a “Gato box” was played softly to replicate the sound and rhythm of the mother’s heartbeat. It seemed to help the babies make up for the millions of heartbeats that they were missing by being born so early, for they responded with a lowered and more stabilized heart rate.

Another instrument was the “Remo ocean disc,” imitating the watery sounds of the womb. It helped to lower the respiration rate of the babies who were struggling for normal breath and regulate the blood-oxygen levels.

And singing! The best results for wakefulness and lowering of stress were found when the parents sang quietly to their babies. The song didn’t matter---one mother sang “Eight Days A Week” and it had positive effects just like “Twinkle Twinkle.”
They were all sung as lullabies, and worked the way a lullaby works: to relax, calm, and soothe. The singing helped babies get to that “quiet alert state,” which is the best condition of the nervous system for maximum development.

This new study is just more evidence of the great power of music, starting from the beginning of our human lives. Or in this case, when the beginning was even earlier than it was supposed to be!

Here is a short New York Times video interview about the study :

Wishing everyone of all ages a good and healing night’s sleep.

Sweet Dreams,

Thursday, April 11, 2013

May there always be sunshine: The Russian "Twinkle"

The title says it all: optimism, hope for the future, and gratitude rolled into one line. 
The rest of the words of this lullaby are just as simple and profound:

May there always be sunshine
May there always be blue skies                           

May there always be mama
May there always be me

Is this an ancient folk song? Or something penned by one of the world's great poets?
No, these perfect lines were written in 1928 by four-year-old Kostya Barranikov. As Pete Seeger tells the story, Kostya drew a picture of a big sun and blue skies, and two stick figured, and this was his interpretation of the drawing. 

In 1962 it was turned into a more complete song and won first prize at an international song festival. It immediately became a hit song throughout the USSR and the rest of the world. 

It transcended politics, and was sung by young Soviets at their training camps, schools, and even in pre-schools. It became known as a song of peace, and is one of the few songs of the Soviet era to have remained popular to this day. 

In fact, Today "May There Always" is the "Twinkle Tinkle" of Russia and many other countries, and like our "Twinkle" it's one of the first songs that children learn. Musically it's ideal for this: the melody is almost all in step wise motion so it's very easy to learn and remember--the basis of a universal classic lullaby. 

Over the years, new lyrics were added and this is how I learned and recorded it:

Click here to listen to the whole song

May there always be flowers
May there always be green grass
May there always be papa
May there always be me

May there always be friendship
May there always be peace
May there always be love
May there always be me

And may you always have sweet dreams!

- Jane