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How to Introduce Music to Your Child

Oct10

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By Amy Turn Sharp of Doobleh-vay

1. Don’t buy a bunch of new music. You have music.

Don’t assume investing in every lame classical CD targeted at infants is going to give your child the richest sensory environment. Also don’t torture yourself with crappy kiddo stuff and have classic songs sung by Barney or a Backyardigan which will make you want to bang your head on the steering wheel as you listen to it for the 700th time. Trust yourself: Dylan, The Beatles, Bach, Guthrie, Putumayo collections, Billie Holiday, and even some old Dave Matthews college CDs are just fine.

2. Music is a much better background that television

Although it is tempting when they are very small to just lounge with them on your chest as you soak up Project Runways repeats- do you really want the baby ingesting “make it work” or building lovely neural bridges and stimulating alpha waves from that perfect NPR block at 2pm? Think about it. Incorporating soft music for nap/rest time is comforting and a good consistent cue for children to relax.
3. Invest in a music box
Give the your child access to instruments. Get a small box that holds a collection of instruments that the child can bring out and enjoy. Make sure the box also has a lid and can be put away when it gets too much.! Take your kid to a music store. It is like magic. You can buy a egg shaker for a couple bucks and start that music box that has a lid.
4. Believe in music and help your child learn with music
Young children find it easier to express feelings when they have a point of reference. Music and it’s amazing melodies, tones, and moods lends itself perfectly to examining feelings. Ask your child to compare the way that they feel to songs. Do you feel like “Yellow Submarine” by The Beatles or “Hallelujah”by Jeff Buckley today? Ask your child to dance with you to music and move the way that the music makes them feel. This is a great time to introduce new music in a fun way and bond silly with your child. I use this as some of my targeted exercise for the week.

5. Create memories with music

If you have music on around the house then you are going to build memories. A wonderful time to listen to music as a family is during the dinner preparations. Choose a new artist each evening and enjoy the music together. I think my sons will think back one day to the sight of their parents busily chopping peppers in a small kitchen while singing love songs loudly. Even now I have memories that involve my mother, Fleetwood Mac, and linoleum kitchen floors and they are so lovely. Just like a scent can throw you somewhere back in time-music transcends time and has the power to catapult you into smiles. Rock on.


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18 Responses to “How to Introduce Music to Your Child”

  1. Neil Oct 10 at 9:21 am Reply Reply

    When I was a child, my parents used to drag me to classical music concerts and operas at Lincoln Center. At times, I found it boring and I was even embarrassed to be seen there, but gradually I learned to appreciate the complexity of the music — opposed to the simplicity of most pop songs. I can’t say that I go very often to the symphony, and I still fall asleep at the opera, but those visits instilled in me a love of music — all types of music — by pushing me to expand my horizons.

  2. barchbo Oct 10 at 9:30 am Reply Reply

    Great points – I especially love that you’re dispelling the myth that music for babies has to be classical. Also, music as alternative to TV/videos is great – it’s more interactive, is a great introduction to dance, and gets babies moving!

  3. bessie.viola Oct 10 at 10:09 am Reply Reply

    Just when I was starting to feel guilty for not investing in a bunch of Baby Einstein… thanks for the validation the the Beatles, Aerosmith, and Fleetwood Mac will all do just as well. We listen to everything in the car – I’m glad I’m not the only one!

  4. Avesta Oct 10 at 11:05 am Reply Reply

    I so agree! I listened to MY favorite music from when I was pregnant to today with my son (who’s now 10). I loved one day when we were looking at a house and my son who was 3 at the time picked up a CD off the floor and said to the real estate agent & I “look mommy…Red Hot Chili Peppers” The agent was amazed.
    My son continues to have great taste in music and although he now only wears clothes with guitars on them because he is “going to be a rock star” I can live with that because I think there’s nothing wrong with dreaming of being a rock star one day. I still have that dream! :)

  5. Momo Fali Oct 10 at 11:08 am Reply Reply

    My kids love everything from classical to classic rock…just like me! My nine year old daughter is starting to like Metallica too. Thanks a lot, Guitar Hero.

  6. jora Oct 10 at 11:57 am Reply Reply

    Great tips, Amy! Music is one of the most rewarding things to share with children, IMHO.

  7. Joslyn Taylor
    joslyn Oct 10 at 12:06 pm Reply Reply

    I love this…totally agree. we’re big fans of playing “grown up” music for the girls — the The Beatles are their current fave.
    although i do have to admit to letting audrey watch project runway with me from time to time…bad, bad mom ;-)

  8. Dana Oct 10 at 12:36 pm Reply Reply

    We like the music of bands that turned kid friendly (They Might Be Giants, Lisa Loeb) and we play both the kid friendly and the adult stuff.
    We also have a family song that we sing or listen to whenever we need some togetherness. Our is “La La Means I Love You” by the Delfonics…it was the song my now husband sang to me (very badly) when we were dating…it’s easy enough for our almost two year old to sing along to and it’s guaranteed to make Mama cry.

  9. MamaBird/SurelyYouNest Oct 10 at 2:35 pm Reply Reply

    My boy’s partial to Jimi Hendrix. I can’t even claim credit for that exposure but it makes me smile. I would also vote for *singing* with your kids, no matter how awful your voice is. Mine love it. I sing all sorts of goofiness all the time without even really registering it. It’s another way to play with language.

  10. Alexis Oct 10 at 3:17 pm Reply Reply

    I agree completely! I’m in the midst of making mixes for my kids from my itunes library. There are many, many songs that are in theory meant for grow-ups, but that I think my kids will love. I can’t listen to the soundtrack from High School Musical one more time!

  11. Backpacking Dad Oct 10 at 5:40 pm Reply Reply

    To quote Greg Behrendt: “Babies hate Black Sabbath. It scares them; makes them cry. But they love the Itsy Bitsy Spider. It’s like their ‘Free Bird’.”
    ’round here though, it’s the themes from Scrubs and Jeopardy.

  12. karey m. Oct 11 at 5:42 am Reply Reply

    i don’t think we’ve ever owned a baby cd…they make uncle sugar and i sweat a bit. i like to hear esme stroll through the flat singing “i got soul but i’m not a soldier!” yes, she loves the killers. and queen. uh oh.
    your points are all brill and right…more so because YOU wrote ‘em! i do enjoy you…

  13. Megryansmom Oct 11 at 8:44 am Reply Reply

    I love to have music playing, I can appreciate any kind of music. I sing too, although that may burn a hole in your ears. A music teacher once told me that playing music stimulates a child’s brain.
    Today is my official delurking day and I’m encouraging others to do the same.

  14. Mary Oct 11 at 1:14 pm Reply Reply

    Fabulous advice! My little one loves Stevie Wonder, Feist, and tons of other artists he’s discovered while listening to my music. We dance around the kitchen almost every evening. We don’t have a music box yet, though – great idea and one we’ll have to make happen.

  15. Amber Oct 11 at 11:11 pm Reply Reply

    A big YES on not buying crappy kid’s music. I never really understood why people think that children can’t listen to “normal” music. We pretty much make fools of ourselves everyday singing made up songs about things we do. A recent favorite is a “waffle song” as my son is really into waffles for breakfast. I love music.

  16. Fairly Odd Mother Oct 12 at 11:12 pm Reply Reply

    I agree with so much, but good god, no Dave Matthews! They Might Be Giants, before they were ‘for kids’, have great older stuff. Much of my music collection is covered in ‘parental advisory’ labels, but some of it is just fine for kids and more fun for me too. But, I also think there is some really fun kids’ music out there that is worth the money. I think it’s worth it for them to sometimes hear lyrics that are about ‘kid things’ and not just about love gone wrong or other adult topics.

  17. Isabel Oct 14 at 2:06 pm Reply Reply

    My 2 year old loves listening to the Old 97′s just as much as I do. He also loves to watch their live concerts we have on DVD. The best part is when my son gets out his mini guitar to rock out along with them. I’m not sure how old a kid has to be to start guitar lessons, but he’s totally going to be taking lessons.
    We love playing music at our house and I’m excited that my toddler is excited about music. He has just as many playlists on my iPod as I do!

  18. Maria Jan 02 at 2:22 pm Reply Reply

    When I gave birth to our little guy Jakob, I had Takk by Sigur Ros playing throughout our labour process… now almost 6 months later, Sigur Ros is now his “sleeptime” music. Works for me! On the other hand, when he was awake and being so little we weren’t keen on introducing him quite yet to our regular roster of music! We found these GREAT cd’s that were kind of a tradeoff for us – the Rockabye Baby Series, which were lullabye renditions of U2, Coldplay, the Beatles, Bob Marley, Radiohead, AC/DC, Bjork, you name it. Super cute, and still relaxing enough for him to keep calm and sleep. When he’s older, he’ll recognize the melodies and have more appreciation for them, I’m thinking.
    http://rockabyebabymusic.com/ecom2/index.php/music

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