03 May Music To My Ears
Children’s music. Is that like children’s food? In most cultures around the world, there is no such thing as food specifically for children; there is simply food. Perhaps it’s time to have a look at, or rather a listen to, just music. Did you catch that article in the NY Times Magazine a few weeks ago, “Getting Your Kids to Eat (or at Least Try) Everything?” I say let’s try “Getting Your Kids to Listen to Everything!”
At Montclare, we recently experienced March Music Madness. This year, teachers were encouraged to expose students to music from different cultures and countries around the world. Students also sang songs in different languages and shared stories about the many languages they speak at home. There were lots of surprises and there was a palpable sense of discovery. Music is, after all, the universal language with the power to bring us all together.
While the Contemporary American radio doesn’t offer much in the way of child-appropriate music, the internet and often Satellite Radio stations certainly do! Albums from around the world may be downloaded from iTunes and Youtube is a veritable listening wonderland if your searching for inspiration.
Back before the flood, when I was in nursery school (as we called it back then), my favorite music didn’t even have lyrics. My parents used to crank up Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five” on the record player and my sister and I would dance around our apartment singing Paul Desmond’s sax solos.
If jazz isn’t your style, you might enjoy sharing some traditional, timeless Irish and Scottish music with your child. There’s also bluegrass and beepop, klezmer and conjunto… As a toddler, my older son got his groove on with Putumayo’s Mali compilation CD. Even though he doesn’t speak a word of Bambara, the sounds of Mali spoke to him and made him dance. My younger son was partial to Zydeco. Thankfully, Putumayo makes it extremely easy for time-challenged adults to browse and explore the world’s different music cultures online.
Yes, there is also a lot of excellent, grown-up-friendly, children’s music. Dan Zanes and They Might Be Giants are incredibly creative and smart for all ages and I enjoy listening to them — even without my kids. In the same way that it would be silly to forever eschew delicious Mac And Cheese in favor of the Cheese Soufflé, I’m not suggesting you toss all of your children’s music and pump your home full of 24/7 Mozart, although both Soufflé and Mozart are delightful!
If, like me, you are still digging yourself out of the “children’s-food” rut, I’m suggesting that it’s not too late to nourish your child’s aural palate with some “real” music while they devour their dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets!