Do you ever suddenly realize you have some phrase or part of a song that is stuck in your head, sometimes called an earworm and it is playing on auto-pilot during your day? Traditionally we have been taught to believe this is something to be annoyed by. But, do you ever wonder why that is happening?

It’s good for the brain

Your brain likes predictability and self-soothing. And the brain loves melody and repetition. So when you sing or repeat in your mind a snippet of a song over and over it is super soothing. You can reverse engineer this to purposely sing a simple melody with a positive message when you are struggling and your brain isn’t coping. You can move the energy because emotion is just energy in motion. Move your body and let that song flow through you. Whistle a tune, sing out loud, and share your voice.

Leah Irby holding a viola wearing purple with a purple background to the text.

How I’ve found comfort in simple songs

When I was teaching elementary orchestra, I would sometimes go around in between class times- singing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. Other people would ask me- how can you stand to listen to these basic songs all day long when the kids don’t “sound good”?

But it was my favorite teaching. I taught elementary, junior high, and high school. But my favorite group class was the elementary orchestra. And I think partly my brain enjoyed all that repetition. There was a predictable book and I got to the point where I knew all the songs and what was coming next. It was comforting to me and I enjoyed the fact that the kids were always so excited when they learned anything new. So, I got a lot of positive feedback in the classroom, which felt good as a teacher. (If you are looking for individual help with lessons or parenting, click here.)

I used to catch myself singing Twinkle and was perfectly in a good mood. I would try to change that song in my head. I would think of some more complex songs that my high school students were playing. I thought surely those other songs were more worthy of my brain space. But, part way through singing something else -my brain would return to the basic songs.

I now understand it was my brain loving the simplicity and predictability of the music.

So the next time you are struggling. . .

How you can use this to help yourself

Think of some simple tune, sing it in your mind or out loud, and let your mind be soothed as you go about your day. Think of children’s songs, hymn tunes (if you grew up singing them), or Christmas songs. Anything that has a simple repetitive melody. Your brain will thank you for it. There is power in your voice.

A parent and child sitting near each other with a rainbow color through them, singing to each other.
A step-by-step guide to help parents communicate and connect with their autistic kids while reducing everyone’s anxiety and stress

If you would like to learn strategies to take control of your emotions and help to co-regulate with your child. The emphasis is on empowering you to use your voice to sing, without judgment, to help keep the brain calm- so it can function at its best. This will help parents communicate and connect with their autistic kids while reducing everyone’s anxiety and stress. Click here to join our mailing list, and you will be the first to know when the next enrollment period is.