What Music Should My Child Listen To?
This is a question that parents often ask me when they start music lessons. What music should my child listen to? One might initially argue that it doesn't really matter as long as they are listening to music. While there is certainly some truth to that, let me add what I have found is a more complete approach to listening to music for children.
Why Even Listen to Music?
This might be a more interesting first question to ask. Why is listening to music even important in the first place? This might seem obvious since most of us grow up with music as part of daily life. We hear music at home, in movies, on TV, on the internet. It's almost like we can't get away from it even if we tried.
In all of these cases, it's passive listening. Music is simply there. Then there's the music we eventually connect with. This music, we seek, really listen to and connect with emotionally. That's the type of listening we are talking about today, active listening. What is the music trying to say? What are the details inside the music that are usually gleaned over.
When children are taught to listen to music this way, just as we would learn how to appreciate great art, they develop a much deeper connection to music over the course of their lives.
Is One Style Better Than Others?
The answer to this question is a simple no. Much argument has been made over the years as to which type of music is most beneficial for kids. Much of that has been debunked and to be honest, I never understood why it was a conversation to begin with.
Just as no one would argue that a Picasso is less worthy than a Rembrandt, I feel the argument surrounding music is thin at best as well. Whether listening to Mozart, Bob Marley or even Duke Ellington, there is something in each piece of music that can teach us something and make our relationship with music even deeper.
Where to Begin?
This is all well and good, but the practical question of where to begin is a valid one. What music should my child listen to is an important one and worthy of answering. While we won't pit one music against another, let's try and focus the conversation around how to listen to music.
In the listening worksheet at the bottom of this article, you will find a few questions to get you going.
As far as what pieces of music to start with, I find that it's important to listen to a variety of styles. A great Classical piece to start with is the Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saëns.
Some great Jazz might include a tune by Miles Davis like So What.
Bands like the Beatles and artists such as Elvis and Chuck Berry are great for classic Rock n' Roll music.
Other artists to listen to can include Ed Sheeran, Alicia Keys, Michael Jackson, John Mayer, James Brown and Prince.
With the internet, we are all lucky to have a virtual infinite amount of music at our fingertips. With that comes the danger of not actively listening. My encouragement to you and your kids is to listen to music together. Ask questions. What did you like about the song? What didn't you like? What instruments can you make out? What style?
Make up more questions as you go along. You will find the activity to be such a great time for both you and your kids. The best part is that you all discover new music that you may have otherwise never had heard.
It's happened to me so many times. In my quest to introduce cool music to my students, I come across artists I never heard of and I am so excited every time that happens! Print out the sheet below and get to some awesome listening.
Have fun and happy listening!