Archived entries for Nirvana

rock-a-bye baby

One of the primary questions I get from people about this project is “What music are you going to use?” In fact, much of my time has been taken up choosing appropriate lullabies based on published literature on developmentally-appropriate music (read: lullabies) for neonates. Lullabies are songs intended to soothe, so they are perfect for infants in the NICU environment.

They are also used by parents to lull babies to sleep.

OMG CUTE. (If you hope to get things accomplished during the rest of your day, don’t Google search “sleeping baby.” If you want to warm your heart, Google search “sleeping baby.”)

We are seeking moderately paced lullabies with steady volume, female vocals, and a single background instrument. We also want versions of the lullabies in Spanish and English so that the neonates can be exposed to music in the language of their parents. Lullabies with all of these qualities are difficult to find, and appropriate versions in Spanish and English are nearly impossible to find.

My current assignment is to listen through lullabies to find ones that meet our list of requirements regarding vocal quality, tempo, and instrumentation so we can perhaps present these to an individual who is willing to record Spanish and English versions of the same lullaby melody. This is our current path because I have not been able to find anything perfect for our study on the Internet. This lullaby search has taken me on a journey through instrumental, baby-geared renditions of Nirvana (featured in a previous post) and most recently to the lullaby albums that my mother played for me and my brother.

While reading Jayne Standley’s Music Therapy for Premature Infants, I shared her list of recommended lullaby albums to my mother, only to realize that the album my mom played for me every night (Joanie Bartels’ Lullaby Magic) was high on the list! I just listened through this CD again, along with her follow-up Lullaby Magic 2, and both of them put me instantly at ease. As an infant, I would fall asleep to Lullaby Magic whenever a bedtime story from Mommy or Daddy wasn’t enough. (It rarely was, I am told.) Lullaby Magic 2 came out a year or two before my brother was born, so I got to listen to it coming from his room during my first couple of years in elementary school.

My mom played them to us in a cassette player that looked a lot like this:

I was listening through Lullaby Magic 2, reminiscing (with myself, how pathetic) about falling asleep in my room as a kid (really pathetic), and I come across this gem called “Sleepyhead (Leila’s Song).” It is not my favorite on the CD, but it instantly and obviously triggered Passion Pit. Now “Sleepyhead” is stuck in my head, which, even after approximately 1.5 years of incessant listening, is not a bad thing.

I love Passion Pit. Hopefully they get big enough for Rockabye Baby! to make a lullaby album by the time I become a parent.

Also, I just used a new restroom at NSI and realized that the scent of the hand soap is the same as the shampoo my salon uses. If remembering the ease of being a child on the brink of sleep wasn’t enough for my well-being, I am now remembering how good it feels to have someone else wash your hair. (For those readers who have never experienced this, please don’t knock it before you try it.)

I feel like a Food Network star yearning for their favorite food on Best Thing I Ever Ate: “Uggh, my mouth is watering and I can almost taste it.” In my case, though, I’m mentally returning to my life’s most relaxed moments. I suppose an afternoon of listening to lullabies should do that to a person.

Stress 101

While I was waiting for my parents to pick me at Haverford, I started reading Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers: The Acclaimed Guide to Stress, Stress-Related Diseases, and Coping by Robert Sapolsky, a book Ani assigned to me to introduce some of the concepts we would be dealing with this summer. I haven’t gotten far yet, but the entertaining and approachable writing makes me excited about progressing through the book.

The beginning of the book had already altered the way I think about stress. Sapolsky remarks that the stress-response is the set of bodily reactions that is intended to help the body return to homeostasis after experience of or in anticipation of a stressor. Most humans have very few of the acute and chronic physical stressors that plague animals like having to hunt their food, but all animals have adapted ways to effectively cope with these stressors. Much of human stress is chronic psychological and social turmoil that never manifests physically, and this tends to lead to physical illness. The energy that is expended on the stress response cannot contribute to development and maintenance of other vital bodily functions like the immune system.

The directly relates to the population of babies that I will be working with this summer because the stress of cardiac surgery and of constant NICU stimuli effects their growth and development. Music certainly has the potential to reduce stress, and stress reduction is particularly important for babies, especially those that are at risk. And now, a lullaby rendition of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana.

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