I’ve been a dad professionally since 2008. If there’s one thing I’ve learned along the way, its that you don’t have to teach your children anything about music for your son or daughter to have a connection.
I will always remember the first time my son danced at about 9 month old. He was just pulling up on things and standing and I was cleaning one Saturday morning, playing Wilco. Nobody had to teach my kid to dance to the music. It just had to be on. He figured it out.
Even earlier than that, when he was just a newborn, he was inconsolable one night very late until Gnarls Barkley came on the TV playing “Who’s Gonna Save My Soul.” He faced the television and was silent while the song played.
Nobody had to teach my 5 year old anything about melody before she wrote her first song called “Smoothie Day.” She wrote it when she was 4, and it has a fairly simple yet sophisticated melody and refrain.
It’s been a while with spotty attendance, but we finally went to church for the first time in a few months this morning. My 11 month old is always in the nursery but we’ve noticed that when music comes on in the car or on television, she “sings” along. My wife wanted her to be in the beginning of the service with us so she could “sing” with the choir of other church attendees. And she did.
I’m not saying you don’t have to teach children about music as in that all they need to know, they can passively absorb. When it is age appropriate, they need to learn about structure and rhythm and timing and melody, harmony, etc. They need to be taught how to sing properly or play an instrument and master it. Music for children is important. But there is something in our very nature that needs not be taught that we respond to before we even have language skills. We as human beings have a natural response to it.
Music moves us. You see it in babies who are soothed by the Rock-A-Bye Baby lullaby albums. You see it in the hipster who can only process his feelings through the music of Decemberists. You see it in the elderly in nursing homes who respond to nothing but music that triggers memory.
Expose your children to music. All the time. Teach them an instrument. Support your local school music program.
Music is important.