youtube linkHi all,

The following post is authored by my good friend and colleague, André Brandalise. Andre is a music therapist residing in Porte Alegre, Brazil. His post is a response regarding a YouTube video that featured a mom singing to her crying baby. This video drew a great deal of attention throughout several media outlets in Brazil including the popular television program, “Fantástico.”


In Brazil there is a very popular TV show called “Fantástico.” It made its premiere in August 5th, 1973 and became a show dedicated to the Brazilian family which goes on air every Sunday night. It brings different attractions and, among its purposes, does not have the objective to discuss topics in a very deep level. However, it is considered a serious show conducted by important journalists who cover the main facts of the Brazilian week. Well, on Sunday, November 3rd the show tried to understand the phenomenon illustrated through a youtube video. CLICK HERE TO VIEW VIDEO

In this video the reader will see a mother singing to her baby who reacts to it in a very emotional way. The video became really popular in Brazil and Fantástico decided to discuss the phenomenon. In order to understand it, journalists decided to interview professionals of different areas. It was unbelievable that journalists decided not to interview music or music therapy professionals. The interviewd professionals, who may be excellent professionals in their areas, do not have the obligation to understand phenomena involving music therefore what they said, even though made sense about the video, explained only partially what had happened. The interviewd psychologist, for instance, even stated that the music involved was not relevant and affirmed that the only reason for the baby’s emotional reaction emerged from the relationship with its mom. Well, relationships between moms and babies really happen. They are really potent and what was said was correct. However, it is not the only phenomenon which occurs when two or more people get involved with music.

The child in the video also reacted due to its relationship with the specific music piece that was chosen by its mother. According to the report in the TV show, the child only reacts in that emotional way when the mom sings that specific chosen song. This choice was not a coincidence. The song the mom chose has characteristics that only exists in it since each song is unique. Each song will present tension areas, areas of relief, melodic contours, bigger or smaller levels of predictability, etc. The child’s musicality was able to recognize elements in that specific song that could not recognize in others even if coming from the mom’s repertoire, interpreted by the mom through the use of the same timbre. That’s why the mom chose that song and decided to film baby’s emotional experience that use to occur.

In other words, it is important to understand that yes, this child has made a significant interaction with its mother with the help of the song however, the child also makes a significant interaction with the song with the help of its mother. The song helping the baby and the mom’s rapport and mom helping the baby and the song’s rapport. So, we have the formation of triangle which involves the mother, the baby and the song. Music is not only positioned BETWEEN mom and baby but also WITH mom and baby, facilitating not only the contact and connection between this baby and its mother but also between this baby and the world.


resposta do  musicoterapeuta André Brandalise à matéria do programa Fantástico exibida no dia 03/11/2013

A tentativa do programa Fantástico do último domingo dia 03/11/2013 foi a de explicar um vídeo da internet que está muito popular, de um bebê que se emociona ao ouvir sua mãe cantar uma determinada canção. Foi uma pena pois o programa mais uma vez perdeu a oportunidade de enfocar o tema acerca da utilização da música de forma mais abrangente. A matéria é inexplicavelmente leiga em música. Foram entrevistados profissionais de áreas que não se dedicam necessariamente ao estudo da música. Logo, o que foi abordado, apesar de fazer sentido, diz respeito a somente um ângulo do fenômeno relacionado à aplicação da música na contribuição à saúde e ao desenvolvimento humano: a música somente utilizada como agente intermediário entre duas ou mais pessoas. Ao ver de um dos entrevistados, por exemplo, a criança somente reagiu e emocionou-se com a canção devido ao vínculo com sua mãe. Isto existe, é potente e é correto. Mas não foi somente isso o que ocorreu no vídeo estudado e não é somente isto o que pode ocorrer sempre que dois ou mais seres humanos envolvem-se com música.


A criança também reagiu devido a seu vínculo com esta específica peça musical escolhida por sua mãe. Segundo a matéria, a criança somente emociona-se daquela maneira quando escuta a mãe cantando a canção de escolha. E esta escolha não foi uma coincidência. A canção que a mãe escolheu possui características que não seriam encontradas em outras peças musicais pois cada canção é única. Cada canção apresentará seus pontos de tensão, suas áreas de repouso, seus contornos melódicos, uma maior ou menor previsibilidade etc. Logo, a musicalidade da criança reconheceu elementos nesta específica música que não reconheceu em outras. Daí a razão da mãe ter feito sua escolha.

Portanto, é preciso que se entenda que sim, esta criança faz significativa interação com sua mãe via esta canção porém também faz significativa interação com esta canção via esta mãe. A canção auxilia o vínculo do bebê com a mãe e a mãe auxilia o vínculo do bebê com a canção. Forma-se então um triângulo que envolve mãe, bebê e canção. A música não está somente ENTRE  o bebê e sua mãe mas também está COM  o bebê e sua mãe auxiliando a abertura de poros de contato não somente entre esse bebê e sua mãe mas também entre esse bebê e o mundo.


About drjohnmtbc

John A. Carpente, PhD, MT-BC, LCAT, NRMT, Assistant Professor in Music and Music Therapy at Molloy College, is the Founder and Executive Dir

One response »

  1. Helen Rubin says:

    Like many people on the web I saw this video and was very moved (and pained at the same time) by the baby’s emotional reaction, yet I also heard the tenderness in the mom’s voice at the end. Babies are frequently very moved by the music we offer them but I believe it requires respect and sensitivity in observing them so that we don’t submit them to extreme emotions when they are very young.

    Lovely though that mother’s voice is, I think she should have stopped singing as soon as she saw his emotions change. Might a music therapist familiar with very young children have a different comment? However, I do believe that it’s important to have the opportunity to express a full range of emotions, no matter the catalyst.

    Many years ago our 2 year old first born son ran out of the room while we were listening to a recording of Winnie the Pooh songs! How innocuous can those be? However, as we came to know his skills at singing harmony and quite possibly having perfect pitch (never ‘diagnosed’) from age 6 I now believe that he recognized one song was off key. I should note that we haven’t played that recording since that time 34 years ago.

    Our youngest son at an equally tender age asked “Why are they playing such spooky music on that show?” – as when violin music is used to evoke tension or impending danger in a TV program. I was surprised at his comment since he wasn’t watching the program.

    It taught me to be more aware of his sensibilities though, just as the pitch and harmony awareness of his older brother allowed me to be sensitive to his needs.

    By chance I once played the song Hello Young Lovers for an emotionally stable one year old (in a 2:6 group daycare situation), sung by my sons’ barbershop quartet, involving a solo in the smooth tones of our youngest son. It was one of my favorites that they sang and I didn’t know the effect it would have on her, just one of those chance ideas and opportunities. She calmly sat in my lap and rocked back and forth. A couple of days later I began my experiment saying “Would you like to hear Helen’s boys singing again?” – she again sat in my lap and calmly listened.

    I repeated my experiment on a casual basis on several occasions and by the time a couple of weeks had passed she was crawling to my bag to get my phone so we could listen together! (This was only an audio recording so there was no visual/screen attraction). We enjoyed this one-on-one interaction – the only sad part was that when I mentioned it to her parents they didn’t ‘get’ her fascination with the tune and its harmonies. Perhaps she too had perfect pitch, we may never know.

    It is critical that we introduce music to babies through our voices and carefully selected music. Too many parents just buy what’s ‘popular for babies’ or what they hear and buy in their music classes.

    I’m sorry to say that some of the prescribed ‘music for babies’ that you find in every household and many daycares is not my idea of introducing quality music to babies and young children. Our household is probably unique in its musical offerings due to my husband and I each having very eclectic taste.

    My mother introduced our sons, all five of her grandchildren, to Scottish country dancing music and they cavorted across the living room together! On another occasion she played a Placido Domingo CD to our youngest son around age 5 and he was hooked from that day onwards!

    Writing from my early care specialist viewpoint, music is indeed a powerful medium as we, reading here at least, are all aware – but I think we need to truly respect the effect it has on each child. Music played in the average daycare is probably the least attractive, and so much worse if the person choosing the music has no musical passion or aptitude (not carrying a tune is probably the worst crime in my mind!).What if a young child in daycare has instinctive music sensibilites and needs to run away from the sound – might he be deemed a behavior problem and disciplined for non-cooperation?

    The positive emotions and memories evoked by the music in our lives culminated for me three years ago as my mother was nearing the end of her long life (she died a year later at 92) and had Alzheimers. We sat and watched and listened to a BBC Sir Henry Wood Prom concert rich with Rogers and Hammerstein tunes from her (and my) early years. We both sang at the tops of our voices, we both remembered all the words and she could still carry a tune. Big beaming smiles went back and forth between us! I alone have that memory.

    When my brother and I were planning her funeral our knowledge of the riches of music in her life caused us to choose music that would bring smiles to the faces of those present at her memorial service: Here Comes The Sun, The Beatles (my mother went out of the house for a walk as soon as she saw the sun shining) and In The Mood, Glen Miller – the music that was was always played at our family parties as we grew up. And yes, our boys sang together – The Irish Blessing, just Lead and Tenor parts.

    Music should only be therapeutic…for us all.

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