What kind of music do we most often play for our children? Sometimes it’s a bunch of kids singing censored versions of current-day pop chart hits. Sometimes it’s simplified, shorted versions of famous classical melodies. Sometimes it’s fun little educational ditties. Sometimes it’s popular children’s songs of the age (Let it Go, anyone?).
What are we giving our children? Are atrophied versions of some of the most historically recognized and preserved songs the most helpful thing for them? Will a steady diet of pop songs develop and satisfy their creative potential?
You may protest my prodding- What’s wrong with allowing my child to listen to kid songs? Can’t they have any fun? The short answer is that there is nothing inherently wrong with simple songs for children, or even with pop songs for children. We have a lot of the common children’s resources in our home- some educational song tapes (yes, we still have a tape player!), Baby Mozart DVDs, Elizabeth Mitchellon Pandora, etc. And we use them and have fun with them. I love beautiful children’s music! (Granted, we don’t have any of those Now That’s What I Call Music for kids. And I probably never will.)
The problem is not with listening to children’s music specifically geared towards children. The problem is expecting that our children will be bored with deeper music, and consequently, never exposing them to it.
It’s like assuming that your child will never enjoy roasted root vegetables so you always give them grapes instead. Grapes are great! But ultimately you want them to enjoy a variety of nutritious foods, right? Sometimes the more “adult food” takes time to learn to like, but if your kids never try it, they never will develop a taste for it- and they might be missing out on some of the most delicious meals of their lives!
Music is the same way. It’s great to have musical treats. But they only stay in your system for so long, and you can only listen to them so many times before they become cloying. It’s much better to have musical substance that will hold you over for a long time. And the more you listen to great music, the more you develop a taste for it. (It’s not for no reason that the great historic music of the past is still played hundreds of years later, while most pop songs disappear after a couple of months.)
So what do I recommend doing for your children? When you use children’s music, be discerning. Start listening for singable melodies, well-written lyrics, and tasteful instrumentation. Would you like to listen to it, or does it sound obnoxious to you? Pick children’s music that is beautiful!
And when you have time, start thinking about the ways you can introduce your children to baroque, classical, romantic, or other historic eras of music. Start playing some famous composers here and there throughout the day. Don’t know much about them? Don’t worry, I’ll be back with listening recommendations and ideas for learning more music yourself along the way. Looking forward to seeing you back tomorrow!