Music is a Valuable Parenting Tool

Music As a Tool

We loved meeting virtually with Shalini, the owner of Play and Grow Music in Pinellas County, last week. She is truly a bright ray of sunshine! Shalini teaches fun, playful and valuable music classes for babies and children. We asked her to share more about music as a valuable parenting tool for our readers: 

In graduate school, I learned about making short documentaries. When it came time to submit my first film, I wanted to dig deeper into what had always intrigued me – the human condition. Why do we do what we do? What drives us? What is determined by nature? And so, after much consideration, I landed on the decision to submit a short film about laughter.

I interviewed around sixty people for this project. Over and over, I asked, “what makes you laugh?” The most common answer started with a puzzled look, then a smile, then a response of “I don’t know” *giggle* *giggle*. I would watch the person recall emotions of laughter and joy through their body language. The conversation would then go on with stories about a funny experience or a funny person. Aha! They couldn’t articulate it because it was an indescribable feeling.

As I dug deeper, I became interested in the physiological nature of laughter. I learned babies laugh as early as 3 months. While crying offers a signal to parents of hunger or need for a diaper change, laughter does not really have a similar purpose. So why do we laugh? This led me to my conclusion and what would become insight for life. Humans are meant to be happy. Joy is our natural state.

Music = Joy Etc.

Human emotions are wide ranging. From unadulterated joyful bliss, to excruciating angst and pain, humanity has always used music to express these emotions.

In other words, music is a useful tool.

It’s no secret that people use music to express themselves, spread a message, build community, and to cope. As we navigate through this time in history, it is my hope that parents will continue to give their babies and young children the invaluable tool of music.  Whether it is used for pain or for joy, this tool is available to everyone to help reach their own natural state.

I am not implying that parents should pressure themselves to practice an instrument or perform for their children. Quite the contrary actually! Giving children the gift of music means parents giving themselves the safe space to be silly, sound bad, experiment, and play. Modeling these traits for children is integral to giving them the disposition to explore music and to learning in general. It also indicates joy, and babies LOVE to see joyous grownups. Confession: I do too.

Even before starting Play and Grow Music, when I began my certification as a children’s music teacher, I recognized many connections between early childhood development and the joy of music. Babies moving their bodies to a beat or mimicking a parent’s vocal patterns were signs that 1) they could feel the music and 2) they were watching how their parents were consuming music. My training and experience have taught me to help parents notice these moments of development and to support their child’s growth throughout the process. Activities that are great for children sometimes feel silly for adults. I like to provide opportunities for grownups to play and be silly while being musical so they can model for their little ones. Musicians do not have to be on a stage or in an audience.

Children need to see their caretakers smile, sing, make mistakes, and keep going!

As parents, we want to give our children everything. As the fisherman taught the boy to fish, I propose we teach our children to play and grow music in their own special way. If you’re interested in learning more about our babies classes for new parents and babies 0-8 months or our mixed ages classes for families of 0-5 year olds, please visit PlayandGrowMusic.

By: Shalini Karnani Bonjour

Shalini (pronounced Shah-Li-Knee) spent over a decade in the am/fm radio industry. Upon becoming a certified Music Together® instructor, Shalini taught music classes in schools and libraries throughout Pinellas county. While being a mom is the job she’s most proud of, sharing a musical experience and offering families of young children tools to develop and bond is Shalini’s other passion. She uses her training to engage children and the grown ups who love them – making everyone feel comfortable and curious about the music making process. There’s plenty of silly fun so everyone can enjoy each class. Giving children a tool for life – their very own musical voice – and helping them access it, is Shalini’s goal for each of her students and their families.

Play and GrowMusic
Ph: 813-540-4506

After your ‘baby and me’ music class with Shalini check out 20 Things To Do in Tampa Bay With a Newborn for more ideas!


About Christie Collbran

Christie believes in helping women recognize their own inner wisdom, strength and power. Having served as President of the Tampa Bay Birth Network for six years and with ten years serving families as a birth doula, she has a reputation for leadership, dedication and compassion. A childbirth educator, certified lactation counselor as well as a certified doula, she makes a point of ensuring mothers and their partners understand all their birthing options and what to expect on their journey.> keep reading