Rhythm Connects Us

by Dan Rindler, Child’Space Practitioner, GCFP

I read this short article today, titled “Babies are Kinder After You Dance Them.”   The point of the article is excellent and I recommend it, but the title could use a re-write!   The author’s measure of babies being “kinder” is that they were willing to pick up an object that an adult dropped.  And then there’s “Dance Them”.  Which definitely should be “dance with them.”   When we dance and sing we experience rhythm and movement together and find ourselves feeling a new connection to each other.  I think parents in my classes who may not be used to singing together with other adults experience this with each other as well.  So, I think I might have titled the article, “Babies and Parents are More in-tune After they Dance Together” but perhaps that wouldn’t have gotten the article as many “clicks”!

It reminds me of this favorite quote of mine from VJ Ayer, in which he says that rhythm is a kind of empathy.

“The way that the brain works when we are perceiving rhythm, is that the parts of the brain that light up are the parts involved in motor sequence planning.  It’s about making limbs move as a response to rhythmic activity but its not just a response to it…  In a way your body wants to regenerate that same activity that gave rise to that sound.  It’s a kind of empathy.  Its that kind of resonance that we have in our body with other bodies doing similar things.  When we hear somebody doing something we want to do it too.  Rhythm is the reason that we’re able to do anything together.”   – Vijay Iyer on the NPR show Bullseye