Skip to main content

Babies make a racket — for good reason — at infant music classes

Babies take part in a music class at the Making Music Academy in St. John's, N.L. (CTV News) Babies take part in a music class at the Making Music Academy in St. John's, N.L. (CTV News)

They are some of the youngest musicians you'll ever see — some merely weeks old — and Friday, they officially graduated their first set of classes.

Babies at the Making Music Academy in St. John's celebrated in style with ukulele singing, some circle games and a few tries at playing instruments of their own, including baby friendly percussion instruments like shakers and maracas.

These classes are popular, and for good reason. There's growing evidence that active participation in music classes helps infants with age-appropriate communication — like pointing and waving — and speech processing.

"The brain is just growing substantially in the first five years," said Terrilyn Pickett, who owns the music school in St. John's.

A bump in demand is helping her build out her business and move locations. She said she's hiring six new teachers, and getting the keys to a new, bigger space in time for a fall course offering.

"I've had children as young as five weeks come in," she said. "I've had some parents ask before they even have their child if they can get on the waitlist."

Similar classes are offered across the country — and Canadian research shows positive results.

A 2012 study, led by researchers at McMaster University, suggested that one year olds who participated in weekly, hour-long music-making classes appeared more likely to smile and laugh — and were particularly more likely to use communicative gestures like facial expressions, pointing and waving — than a control group who only listened to music.

"Our results suggest that active participation by parents and infants is likely essential for optimal learning," authors David Gerry, Andrea Unrau and Laurel Trainor said in the study.

A similar study, published in 2016 by researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle, showed similar results.

The weekly classes at Pickett's studio in St. John's also offer a side benefit: Getting parents together early after childbirth, in what can be a challenging and lonely time.

"We were in a couple just every day, we'd go find a group wherever we could," said Kathleen Cameron, with her son George. "Mostly for me, at the beginning, and then now it's for him because he gets to socialize."

Cameron is expecting another baby soon, and says she'll have both her children in similar music classes.

Pickett knows the feeling. She decided to create her business while on maternity leave, and felt the need for a social circle.

"COVID had just hit at the time," she said. "And I was like, I need to create something where parents can get out of the house, socialize their kids, socialize themselves.

"I was one of those moms who needed that connection."

The business is two years old and early reviews are positive. With her new space and staff, she'll be able to offer classes that are a bit more specialized for older children, and eventually a whole range of classes from infancy to adulthood.

"That's the goal, for everyone to share a love of music." Top Stories

Laws that could get Canadians in trouble in tourism hotspots

There are some laws in popular tourist destinations around the world that could land Canadian travellers in mild-to-serious trouble if they're not careful. Don't let these local laws land you in hot water during your next vacation abroad.

Local Spotlight

Video shows B.C. grizzly basking in clawfoot tub

A donated clawfoot bathtub has become the preferred lounging spot for a pair of B.C. grizzly bears, who have been taking turns relaxing and reclining in it – with minimal sibling squabbling – for the past year.