Sharing the music we enjoy with our child is really important

“A great gift of any adult to a child, it seems to me, is to love what you do in front of the child. If you love to bicycle or if you love to repair things, do that in front of the children. Let them catch the attitude that that’s fun. Because you know attitudes are caught, not taught.” — Mister Rogers (on the Charlie Rose Show, 1994)

We all know that kids are very observant and because of that it’s important that we as parents are mindful of what we expose them to at the beginning of their development. In those first five years of life, we are shaping them in so many ways, and one area of life that is huge is music.

How my parents’ favorite music shaped me

For me I remember my musical tastes being influenced by my parents from a very young age. At about age seven or eight I started exploring new music on my own. I was never really a follower when it came to music. I enjoyed music that was popular with my peers, but I also actively pursued music of other cultures, genres, and eras out of my own curiosity and interest. From Bernard Herrman to Busta Rhymes, balalaika to balearic, I can’t discount myself as being the driver of my musical tastes, but it’s my parents whose favorite music laid the foundation that inspired how my exploration branched off.

They were listening to international performers and bands from countries like France, the former-Yugoslavia, South America, and Africa. I used to listen to radio programs from the late 1930s-1940s like The Jack Benny Program with my mom on Saturdays (Those Were The Days on WDCB 90.9FM). My dad would whip out his accordion every week to play songs from the Serbian village he grew up in or songs that he learned when he was a grad student in France. I was being exposed to so many genres as well. I still remember how the old cassette tape covers looked of the classical albums, jazz albums, and pop albums my parents had. Names escape me, and it’s been so long that I can’t recall them all, but the instant I hear the songs I am instantly brought back.

That’s the power of music. It’s the universal language and it’s a memory maker. We all have songs that take us back to a time and place in our life in just a few seconds. All the feelings and thoughts can rush back in the blink of an eye. Isn’t that incredible though? In such a short span of time we can travel through years of memories, faster than reading an old book or love letter.

Suffice it to say music means a lot to me and I’ve been looking forward to sharing the music I love with my daughter.

Why music is so important for babies

As the most important people in our baby’s life, we play a huge role in developing and fostering their sense of self, creativity, and intellectual growth. One way to begin developing these areas when they’re a baby is through music.

When I sing, play my flute or harmonica, or listen to music with my baby, I’m not only sharing quality time and having fun, but I’m helping them develop the following skills: language, logic, aesthetic appreciation, reasoning, vocabulary, repetition, rhyming, listening, creativity, thinking, self-esteem, rhythm, free thinking, fine motor, gross motor, self-expression, social awareness, cooperation, individuality, hand-to-eye coordination, number recognition, letter recognition, body part recognition and more.

What’s more, sharing music is a great way to bond with baby, and especially when they get older, sharing music with them (whether through playing an instrument, singing, dancing, or listening to music), helps build self-esteem by subconsciously communicating:

  • “You are important to me.”
  • “What you say is important.”
  • “I like spending time with you.”
  • “Being silly and creative is fun.”
  • “You have good ideas.”
  • “I hear you.”
  • “I love you.”

So you see there are a lot of benefits to sharing music with your little one.

Music Stress Relief

You know how just the right sound can lull a baby to sleep? Well, that’s because music is one of the best stress relievers and soothers. All moms know that, and music also offers incredible therapeutic potential. Gideon Waxman, a 25 year old professional drumor tutor based in London, told me about a stress relief technique called mindful listening. “Mindful listening is a remarkable way to experience every individual detail within a piece of music; to connect with the sounds in an entirely new way!” Here’s the link to his recently written guide on how to use music and mindful listening for stress relief and mindfulness like a boss. Gideon studied Music at the University of Westminster and is a qualified mindfulness-based stress reduction instructor.

Why we love our parents’ music

I didn’t think I’d find much on this subject but apparently there’s quite a lot written about how our parents influence us through music. One article was called When I listen to my parents’ music, I find myself, another The songs our parents gave us, and finally A Love Letter To My Parents’ Music with the subheading “I wouldn’t be anywhere without it.” I could go on with article titles, but I think you see what I’m seeing. There’s this powerful emotional thing about our parents’ music that impacts us for life.

Somewhere between our teen years and our thirties our music tastes peak. This would explain why the music from when my mother and father were in their twenties was played a lot when I was little.

In 2013 researchers from Cornell University and the University of California, Santa Cruz released the results of a study they conducted that explored what is called the “reminiscence bump.” They wanted to understand why we often remember things from early in our life better than more recent events, specifically when music that parents played around us growing up can elicit memories.

As you might expect, they (participants) remembered more personal memories for songs that were popular when they were in their early 20s, rather than for ones that came out shortly after they were born. But they also showed a major increase in memory, recognition and emotional connection for songs that were popular when their parents were in their early 20s in the ’80s. They seemed to be particularly attached to the songs their parents liked back in the day–which could be a reminiscence bump for the music that might have played around their house when they were kids, the researchers suggest. (Or maybe they just have the warm fuzzies about Thriller.)

A smaller reminiscence bump also appeared for music of the 1960s, which could possibly be a result of listening to music with grandparents… or maybe everyone just likes the Beatles. The jury’s still out. The researchers have launched an online survey to continue studying how people feel about music from the past century. Because maybe science will prove that music from the ’60s is just like, objectively better. Or something.

(Source: Pop Science)

So there’s a good chance that the music I’ve been listening to in my twenties will shape my daughter differently than the music of my parents’ twenties. Pretty cool right?

Music cultivates and connects us

The music my parents exposed me to growing up has made me the person I am today: curious, a little daring, and passionate. If I had been raised in a home that plays a lot of heavy metal music I’m not sure exactly how I would be different, but I think I would very different, not only in my musical tastes, but every aspect of me as a person. Music affects our body and brain in many ways afterall, why wouldn’t it therefore affect all other aspects of our person?
Like cooking, painting, or alchemy, what we’re exposed to musically from an early age contributes to who we become as individuals. And also, the music we share with our little ones is a way for them to get to know us.
In indigenous cultures, the mother is responsible for shaping the spirit of the child with communications like these to the baby before and after birth, even creating a unique song for that child (e.g., Turnbull, 1983). — Darcia Narvaez, Ph.D
I see the next few years as this amazing opportunity to shape someone through the mix of sounds I introduce to them. The results will be totally out of my hands, but that’s not what matters. It’s this journey of discovering my daughter and what she gravitates to through music that matters most to me. Rather than impose my music tastes on her, I want to see what sticks with her. Like a force of nature, I want to see where she goes musically from this foundation of sounds I’m offering her. And I in turn can’t wait to likewise be influenced by her music as she grows up.

Tinley Park – Music City USA

One thing that we Tinley Park Moms have is a town that has recently rebranded to a music centric brand because music is such a big part of our lives and a huge part of what makes Tinley Park, Tinley Park.

Read more about the Tinley Park rebrand here.

I leave you with this quote from Dr. Oliver Sacks:

Oliver Sacks Quote on Music

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