Connection through lullabies

Helen Mayo House is a space in Adelaide for parents to access mental health support after the birth of their child.

In partnership with the Women’s & Children’s Hospital Foundation Arts in Health program and SA Health’s Helen Mayo House, families were invited to collaborate with two artists to create their own unique lullaby for their child, as well as contribute to the creation of a bespoke Helen Mayo House lullaby – a gift to all families now and into the future.

What is the Lullaby Project?

Carlie and Eli during their time taking part in a Lullaby Project Australia program.

Emily Gann from Connecting the Dots Music founded the first ever Lullaby Project in Australia in 2019 through an international partnership with Carnegie Hall.

The Lullaby Project is designed for new parents to collaborate with professional artists to write and sing personal lullabies for their babies.

These songs help strengthen parent to child connection, enhance maternal and paternal health and wellbeing, build strong community support networks for parents, support the emotional, social and cognitive development of children and empower families with personal and community agency.

Emily says, “With every note, and with every word, we connect. We connect with our inner self, our children, our family, and our community. As we do so, we listen, we share stories, we celebrate life, and we invite people’s voices to be heard and valued. Through lullaby, we all move a step closer to creating a kinder, closer, and more understanding world.”

Emily explains that the Lullaby Project plays a different role than Music Therapy, with the focus being supporting parents to discover their own creativity, and to use that to build deep connections with their baby and family through the gift of a personal lullaby.

“It’s an incredibly empowering project for someone who is facing health challenges,” she says.

“Utilising a strength-based approach, we celebrate each participant’s uniqueness and innate artistry.

“I think that can be a really transformative thing for people to suddenly be heard and listened to as an artist. It’s that feeling of, ‘I’ve achieved this. This is a gift to my child. This is something that I I’ve done now, and I never thought I could.’

“There’s also a strong connection that forms between the mothers who take part when coming together for a non-clinical purpose and sharing experiences and stories in a safe and nurturing environment.”

Thanks to donations made to the WCH Foundation, we were able to help fund the recording of these lullabies in a professional recording studio for parents from Helen Mayo House.

Eli’s Lullaby

Carlie and Brad with their incredible baby boy, Eli.

Carlie is one of the parents who have taken part in a Lullaby Project Australia program, creating a lullaby for her baby boy, Eli.

“I was fortunate enough to be involved in the Lullaby Project with incredible musicians,” Carlie says.

At two weeks old, her son, Eli was diagnosed with Lissencephaly, which means “smooth brain”. It is a rare brain malformation characterised by the absence of normal folds in the brain.

“It’s an incredibly special experience … but it was also very hard, seeing parents with their babies of a similar age. With Eli’s condition, our situation hit home in a different way.”

“Once I got in the flow though, it was really beautiful to be there and create a song for my incredible baby boy with his incredible spirit.”

“I’m so proud of Emily for bringing this project to us to access in Adelaide. It took much passion, time, energy, love and expertise to deliver this precious project.”

Carlie named Eli’s lullaby, ‘Be You’, with this message to him:

“Love, joy and grief live in us with a depth, fury and grace we could never have imagined. We don’t know how long you will be with us, you will never talk to us, but you communicate plenty … in your unique way. We love you and delight in you, in each precious breath and new experience as we explore life together.”

Listen to ‘Be You’ and the many other beautiful lullabies from the project here.

In 2022, the WCH Foundation Arts in Health program is excited to continue its collaboration with the Lullaby Project to offer their creative experiences to more parents and babies supported by the Women’s and Children’s Health Network.

Lullaby Project Australia is an initiative of Connecting the Dots in Music established through an international partnership with Carnegie Hall and supported by the Government of SA.

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