There's a whole lot more than a sing-along that happens in this group.
Parent and baby groups are a perfect way for moms and dads to find new friends while their babies are entertained. While of course it’s very sweet to watch little ones interact, or tumble about the room, it’s even better when parents benefit from the fun, too.
So when Rosie Sleightholme, a classically trained musician from England, had her daughter Isla, she was inspired to start a choir called Folks & Bairns, which offers songs and support for family members.
The choir, based in Bristol, England, started last January and is unusual in that it encourages parents and grandparents to join together and sing along, with older babies adding their own musical talents with clapping or dancing. Sleightholme also reports that some young babies are even lulled to sleep by the dulcet tones.
The focus of the group is definitely not on being pitch perfect. In fact, inexperienced choristers are more than welcome and don’t have to be able to read sheet music. It’s about coming together as a community and finding joy and support through music.
Initially Sleightholme, feeling isolated during her pregnancy, set up a choir called Womb Sisters, made up of a group of about seven women who quickly became friends. But after becoming a mother, Sleightholme wanted to continue the joy of music into parenthood.
As the choir leader points out in an article in Classic FM, there are so many advantages to music and choir singing. “Singing releases endorphins and creates oxytocin too, so it’s pretty impossible to sing and not feel really great!” she explains.
Coming together in a choir also encourages harmony, with each person adding their voice to create one unique, combined sound. Each chorister feels that their contribution is needed, allowing them to feel worthwhile. This is particularly useful for new moms who can often feel lost as they adjust to their new role as mom, while also adapting to a different place in society. And interestingly, a further article in Classic Fm revealed how singing can help speed up recovery from post-natal depression.
There’s an extra bonus to all this song-singing. Babies might love all the interesting sounds, but the familiarity of hearing the same song over and over can offer a lot of reassurance to them. Hearing mom or dad repeat these tunes back at home can be comforting, especially when a baby is tired or fussy.
Sleightholme’s attitude is refreshing. By focusing on offering choir members support, she’s created a unique sound thanks to its youngest members and their gentle cooing tones.
If you have a love of music and babies, you may want to see if your own local church would be willing to set up a parent-baby choir to bring joy to families in your parish.
You can read the whole article by Elena Asprou here.