How Music Develops Baby Brains and Helps with Signing

Learn from music educator Julee Kowallis about how music helps develop babies’ brains and even can help them sign more signs.  Listen to Julee and her tips for how adding music to your life can enrich you and your babies learning experiences.

Julee Kowallis of A Joyful Noise says that kids can start listening to music asbabies–all kinds.

See this great article about music and brain development which discusses the research behind the fun!

Nancy and Anna attended the recent Sing and Sign class and it was a great bonding experience as well as a great opportunity for Anna to see other people signing.

Here are some great songs to sing and sign:

  • Old Mac Donald Had a Farm
  • More Milk (from Pick Me Up!)
  • Apples and Bananas (cereals and milk or veggies and fruits)
  • Splish Splash–great to dance and sign
  • You are My Sunshine
  • The Bear went Over the Mountain (dog, cat, pig and so forth)

Nancy’s Music Pics:

Pick Me Up! Activity Guide and Music CD. Contains 20 original songs that are entertaining for both parents and children and were specifically designed to sing and sign.  Includes an activity guide with all the words and signs you need.

For the Kids A wonderful CD of kid’s songs sung by stars.  A portion of the proceeds will help restore music education in the U.S. public school system through the VHI Save the Music Foundation.  Songs that are great to sign include La La La La Lemon sung by the Barenaked Ladies, Hopity Song sung by Five for Fighting, and It’s Alright to Cry sung by Darius Rucker.

Do-Rey-Me and You!
From the same people who created Kindermusik classes, Do-Rey-Me and You! cd’s introduce various styles of music and have some wonderful songs to sign.  Each CD comes with a book or an educational toy.

  • Critter Giggles One of our favorites that includes Place in the Choir, Whadaliacha and The Green Grass Grew All Around.  The joke book that accompanies the CD is too old for your child now, but when she is 5, she will love them.
  • Tub Tunes By far, the best collection of songs for the bath.  It includes Yellow Submarine, Rub-a-Dub-Dub, and many other splashy favorites.
  • 10 in the Bed: A wonderful collection of songs that you can sign include Ten in the Bed, Five Little Ducks, Old MacDonald, and Mary Had a Little Lamb.
  • Mister Sun: Sunny songs that will make you both smile including Sunshine on my Shoulders and You are the Sunshine of my Life.
  • Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes Includes Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes, If You’re Happy and You Know It, and I’m a Little Teapot along with some other great songs like Locomotion and Them Bones.


  • Sing Along with Puntumayo Features a star-studded cast of artists singing folk, blues, bluegrass, swing and reggae that you can sign and sing, including a great jazzy version of Old MacDonald as well as a folk version of You are My Sunshine.
  • Folk Playground A delightful collection of folk songs that introduces your baby to folk music.  Even though you probably won’t sign any songs on this CD, it is a wonderful CD to listen and dance to.

Listen and Play: A great online resource for early learning songs comes from BBC Radio, which hosts Listen and Play, a 28 part audio resource for pre-school children emphasizing the development of early literacy skills. Each program includes familiar songs, rhymes, stories and sound discrimination games to develop children’s phonological awareness and confidence with spoken language. The songs and games in this program can easily be adapted to using with your baby to enhance your experience in signing. See

Shelly’s Music Pics:

Charlie Brown music – it’s not really kids music, but because of the  comic association you can get kids to listen to this really great  jazz music
SchoolHouse Rock – They’ll be familiar with all these academic  concepts so when they are “taught” them later it won’t be so foreign  and will make perfect sense.
Classic movie soundtracks: The Sound of Music, Fiddler on the Roof,  Oklahoma!, Rodger’s and Hammerstein’s Cinderella Peter and the Wolf, by Sergei Prokofiev – I like that it tells a  story using different instruments to represent different characters.  Children can practice distinguishing the instruments and recognize  that a sound can have “character” without words.
Carnival of the Animals, by Saint-Saens – play the different animal  movements and pretend to BE the animal while you listen
Canon in D, Pachelbel – one of the most beautiful songs ever written  and so soothing to listen to
Aaron Copland – Fanfare for the Common Man, Rodeo (the “Beef: It’s  What’s for Dinner” song)
Glenn Miller music – can’t you just see your toddler shouting out  “Pennsylvania 6-5-Oh!- Oh! -Oh!”
Joe Raposo, – a fabulous Sesame Street song writer, titles: Somebody  Come and Play, Sesame Street Theme, Bein’ Green, C is for Cookie,  Sing, One of These Things is Not like the Others
Popular Singers: Billy Joel, Steve Miller, Bon Jovi, Ray Charles, Earl Scruggs, James  Taylor, The Beatles, Mel Torme, Ella Fitzgerald, Supremes, Barry  Manilow, Eric Clapton, … should I go on?

If you want to see a children’s TV program focused on teaching music concepts, call Discovery Children’s Network and PBS and ask them to carry “Tuba Joe,” a show in preproduction. Here is a trailer to view:

3 Replies to “How Music Develops Baby Brains and Helps with Signing”

Comments are closed.