Parents of newborns know the challenges of trying to get a crying baby to sleep. But in the midst of the rocking, diaper changes, and feedings, have you ever considered singing some jazz?
Carmen Porter is a musician based in the Valley with a bachelor’s degree in music and a background in choral singing, jazz performance, folk concerts, and teaching ukulele to children. “I love to play with melody, harmony, language, education, and the emotional impacts of music,” she says. Currently she is working on a project where she sings about different kinds of plants. There are many facets of music that excite Porter.
Recently, Porter has been running music classes for parents on how to soothe their babies through singing while also lowering their own stress levels. She discovered this joint effect “one evening when my baby was inconsolable, and I was particularly exhausted. I was pushed past the point of reason and broke into a ridiculous jazz/show tune. [My baby] fell silent and was completely captivated.” Not only did it relax her baby, but she noticed she began to relax as well. “As I kept singing, my stress level dropped completely, and [we] started laughing,” she explains.
In these classes, some songs are reviewed and lyric sheets are sent home to use outside of class. As participants become more comfortable, Porter will also introduce some basic instruments for them to try out as well. “I usually start with a few traditional lullabies, play songs, and transitional tunes, but can adjust to what people find to be most useful as classes progress,” she says.
Porter reminds everyone that whether or not you are a skilled vocalist is beside the point. “You are your baby’s favourite singer. The sound of your voice is what they want most to hear, regardless of what you think of your voice,” she explains. The benefits for both you and your baby far outweigh any insecurities about your voice. Plus, the long-term effects on your baby’s development are another bonus, as singing relaxes the parent: “Singing can help the singer regulate emotions and has amazing developmental effects for children.”
The next class will be offered on February 15 in partnership with the Montérégie West Community Network’s Hemmingford location. The activity starts at 10 a.m. and is free to attend. To learn more and to participate, you can contact Porter on carmenporter.com.