Age Appropriate Music

No matter how old you are you don’t out-grow your memories or forget songs that made a big impression on you, even if it’s been a long time since you heard them. Attached to that kind of song are often vivid memories of a place, people and/or how you felt at that time of your life.

So is it not “age appropriate” to suggest adults listen to traditional nursery songs with a human heartbeat rhythm to comfort them when they are stressed and can’t sleep?

Would it be wrong to play the traditional nursery songs on the Heartbeat Lullabies albums to an 80 year old woman for fear it would be condescending? If given the opportunity, it would be the first time she has heard the familiar songs accompanied by such sophisticated instrumentation, including the sound of an actual human heartbeat used as the rhythm instrument. What memories might she flash back to? Will she have fond thoughts of rocking and singing those non-romantic love songs to help comfort her child or grandchild to sleep? When she hears Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star will she remember teaching school children the alphabet to the same melody so they could memorize and learn the letters quicker? She might flashback to a time in her life when the songs were sung to her while she was receiving a lot of attention, affection, compassion and made to feel safe. Only she knows what positive long term memories and past events playing familiar nursery songs can conjure up from different times in her life, but you can be confident they will probably all be pleasant ones. It doesn’t matter how old listeners were when they first heard a song, if they can revisit pleasant memories, have positive feelings and be comforted by hearing it again.

Should the term “age appropriate” be applied to music at all?

About three months before we are born we are hearing our mother’s human heartbeat and the music our mother is hearing. For the rest of our lives we will hear all kinds of music and thousands of songs. When we are a child we easily learn simple repetitive nursery songs and remember their potent catchy melodies for the rest of our lives.

As the years go by, we develop our own musical taste and discover songs, artists, and kinds of music that we really like. Some of those songs make powerful imprints on our memory. When we hear one of those poignant songs, we flash back to mentally re-live the events, circumstances, time period and feelings attached to it. It may be a song we first heard when we were teenagers. It may be a song our parents liked or one of a sibling’s favorites. It may be a song we heard five or ten years ago. It may be a nursery song we first heard when we were a child or even a song we just heard for the first time. Hearing a favorite recording or song from our past can not only bring back good memories, but it can still make us feel the same way we felt when we first heard it. I tend to want to turn the volume up when I hear one of my old favorites I haven’t heard in a while.

We are also exposed, usually not by choice, to music and songs we don’t like. Hearing songs or music that we don’t like annoys us even when it is played for a short time at a low volume. Song induced flashbacks to memories of past events and feelings are unique to the individual. A music recording that brings back a pleasant memory for one person may bring back an unpleasant memory for another. Some like country music while others can’t stand it. Some people appreciate sophisticated classical music while others find it nerve racking.

Most of the hits since the invention of sound recordings were produced to entertain, stimulate and/or help the listener express their feelings and emotions. Very few hit recordings were intended to reduce stress or put their audience to sleep. The time tested simple melodies on the Heartbeat Lullabies recordings were written with the intention to comfort the listener. Some of them have been passed down from generation to generation for hundreds of years.

The composer Brahms was aware of the power of simple, repetitive, predictable, infectious melodies to comfort. Ironically, his “Lullaby and Goodnight,” is one of the most famous and recognizable melodies in the world. It is quite possibly the only one of his masterpieces that you can hum.

The first sound recording ever made was of Thomas Edison citing the first verse of “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” Alexander Graham Bell chose the same nursery song when he made his first sound recordings. I suspect they chose that nursery song because it was easy to recognize and so well-known by the masses.

A few years ago, a baby formula company and some state governments provided millions of free classical music recordings for parents to play for their newborns. With no real research to back up their claims, the donors touted the complex sophisticated music would help calm babies to sleep and may make them smarter. What more could a parent want? Even though most parents were skeptical and not classical music lovers themselves, what could it hurt? For the parents that tried it at bedtime, the possible benefit of making their baby smarter out-weighed whether the recordings were to their own liking or seemed to be the appropriate kind of music to calm their baby. The babies had to express their approval by going to sleep or their disapproval by crying and/or staying awake. Would you have tried it?

Unlike a baby, you can quickly give a thumbs up or thumbs down to a song when you hear it. If you are suffering from Insomnia, Alzheimer’s, Dementia, PTSD, or Anxiety, I recommend you take a chance and listen to my research backed Heartbeat lullabies. You will enjoy hearing the familiar nursery songs again and discover it’s a pleasant way to be distracted from what’s bothering you. You will find them comforting even if you have never heard the songs before. If you are skeptical and think listening to my Heartbeat Lullabies might not be appropriate to listen to at your age, then how desperate are you for help? It either works or it doesn’t. When it does, the benefits are worth it.

If you are a Christian, unlike the nursery songs on the traditional version, the hymns on the Christian version have messages that still speak to you and for you. The lyrics can even have more meaning to you now than they did when heard or memorized the songs as a child.

For Skeptics Only

"If you are only skeptical, then no new ideas make it through to you. You never learn anything new. You become a crotchety old person convinced that nonsense is ruling the world. (There is, of course, much data to support you.) But every now and then, maybe once in a hundred cases, a new idea turns out to be on the mark, valid and wonderful. If you are too much in the habit of being skeptical about everything, you are going to miss or resent it, and either way you will be standing in the way of understanding and progress." Carl Sagan, in "The Burden of Skepticism" (1987)

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