‘I know your voice’

Songs and music alongside the incubator in Hungary

One of the famous quotations of world-renowned Hungarian composer and music teacher Zoltán Kodály: “A mother not only gives her body to her child but she builds up its soul from her own.”


Staff of the “I know your voice” Perinatal Music Programme have been active in hospitals since January 2014. They help parents find their own voices, so that they are not inhibited from singing and telling nursery rhymes to their babies during the time they spend in the perinatal intensive centre (PIC). Help is needed in crisis situations because it is frequently difficult for parents to speak out.

Our motto, ’I know your voice…’, is the baby speaking to his/her mother, because her voice is reassurance and everything to the baby.

Several medical studies have shown that in music therapy, the singing voice of the mother is the most effective method of healing premature and ill newborn babies: children’s oxygen saturation levels improve, their pulse and breathing are harmonized, and the anxiety level of mothers is reduced when singing. The PIC department of the 1st Department of Paediatrics, Budapest Semmelweis University was the first place, where head of department and associate professor Dr. Miklós Szabó invited music into the ward. Working closely with neonatologists and nurses, we constantly observed what was optimal for both babies and parents, so that today we have an operational methodology that is capable of helping – in a customized manner – in the healing of premature and newborn babies of different states and ages. Music is a sort of medicine so it is important to pay attention to the dosage and it has to be finely administered in a different way for each case.


In the past two years we have launched the programme in a further eight hospitals, and preparations are underway at PIC departments in a further three hospitals. In the first quarter of 2016, we can state that the Kodály-based concept of the living sound of singing, personal contact and delicate touch is regularly present in the PIC departments of the paediatric units of all four universities of medicine in Hungary. For over a year and a half our work in hospitals was conducted on a purely voluntary basis, finally we received some funding from different companies.

Personal contacts initiated in hospitals continue: once home, families get in touch with us at music classes held in cultural centres, where the artistic upbringing of children is carried on in genuine singing communities, together with families. So is music capable of further healing? Naturally, the answer is yes!