You know those people who give you a chance even though they haven’t seen you since you were 19-and-something-of-an-idiot? Cintia is one of them for me, and I like her. Social media reconnections are boss.
Cintia and I had a conversation today about introducing your kids to music, and it streamed live on YouTube. If you didn’t see it live, boy did you miss out! I’m pretty sure she’s already edited out the part where my dog peed on the chair behind me. Regardless, you can check it out here. I apologize for the poor sound quality on my end. I didn’t realize my webcam mic was so bad.
Anyway, I had a few more thoughts after we finished chatting…
On simple ways that parents can introduce music to children:
- Put a CD player in the bedroom that the child can operate. It’s better than an iPod at younger ages, and the concrete experience of getting a new CD (even if it’s one you burned from your iTunes) is thrilling for them.
- Take the kids to as many concerts as possible! Duh.
- Keep an eye out for musical toys that don’t do all the work for your child. If you push one button to hear a song, that’s not really learning anything.
- Take out your earbuds, Momma. Play it for everybody!
On children’s ability to sing:
- Don’t ever tell a child she has a terrible voice or “can’t sing.” Most parents aren’t that accurate in judging their own abilities, anyway. The point isn’t always to be the best. It’s to enjoy. And, by the way, if we judged how great a cook you were going to be based on your mudpies…
- The more they sing, the better they sing. This is not a hard-and-fast rule. If you make your child sing 6 hrs a day, they are not guaranteed to sell more records than Whitney. But, singing is the ability to recall and make your body reproduce what you recall. It’s imitation, and it usually becomes more accurate with more attempts.
On tips for parent-guided interactive musical play:
- Use your sing-song voice to give instructions. (Think of the “nanna nanna boo boo” tune and sing “Run and get your shoes on!”) Betcha the child sings back to you.
- Be a broken record. That may go against lots of parenting book advice, but I’m not thinking of nagging. I’m thinking of the way we have said “I_____ love_____ youuuuu!” thousands of times to my children in the same rising-rising-falling tones. My youngest began filling in the final high-pitched “youuuu” long before he was really talking. That’s musical.
- Get silly. If you can possibly muster up just a little bit of leftover magic dust from deep in your feet, shake it back out and make up a song about what you’re doing right now. Or, even better, when your child is doing this (magically unprompted!) join in. Add to the song. When you get stuck, just repeat stuff you already sang. It’s like… magic.
- Pay someone to teach you how. Music Together, Kindermusik, Musikgarten, and the Learning Groove are music teacher-led classes that involve both parent and child.
On the benefits of introducing music to kids:
- Letting music be part of our lives connects us to the human experience throughout time. There has never existed a culture that didn’t have music. In my opinion, it’s a gift given to us through which we were all meant to worship. It’s so unfortunate that our competition-driven culture has relegated music to “the experts.”
PS – I don’t have a dog.