Dad and daughter play music together on guitar

A Guide to Introducing Your Child to Music

Early exposure to music is an important part of every child’s development, and there’s something special about passing down your favorite music to your children. Singing your favorite songs to your baby or dancing along to a favorite album with your toddler creates bonds that cross generations.

Here’s how parents are making musical memories with their children:

  • “When we aren’t listening to children’s music, my family and I love to listen to Marvin Gaye! We have regular dance parties in the kitchen together.” – Leticia, Mom of 2
  • “We try to expose our kids to a variety of musical sounds, but one type that they really seem to love is bluegrass! My 7-year-old often asks for it by name.” – Eric, Dad of 3
  • “When I was pregnant with my daughter, I printed out the lyrics to some of my favorite oldies songs so that I could memorize the lyrics and sing them to her. Now, singing them together is part of our bedtime ritual! We love Stand by Me, My Girl, Hey Jude and Here Comes the Sun.” – Ellie, Mom of 1
  • “My kids love Michael Jackson’s Thriller. I’m hoping we can learn the dance together someday!” -Traci, Mom of 2

While sharing your favorite music with your kids is a blast, when it comes to your child’s musical growth, variety is key!

Each style of music offers its own distinct characteristics, and when children are exposed to many different musical patterns when they’re young, they are better able to understand and enjoy a greater variety of music later in life.

So how can parents ensure they’re presenting a balanced mix of musical elements – like harmony, rhythm and instrumentation – for their little one to enjoy? Here are some musical genres you and your child can explore together:  

Children’s Music

Most children’s music has two things in common: lyrics that appeal to young ones and fun corresponding movements. This makes it a blast for little ones and their families to follow along. Quality programs, like The Music Class, also incorporate musical complexities that help to further develop a child’s musical brain.

Popular Music

Rock, country, hip-hop, rap and many other styles of popular music have a strong sense of beat. While some popular music may lack a variety of sounds, the powerful rhythmic elements in pop music motivate us to dance and move our bodies, which is great for adults and kids alike! Lyrics are also an important component of popular music. Some lyrics might be intended for adults only, so be mindful when listening to popular music with children!

Classical Music

From string quartets to symphony orchestras and opera, the hallmark of classical music is variety and the complexity of tonal, harmonic and melodic elements. Classical music provides a great deal of musical nourishment!  Even if you’re not a fan of this genre, we encourage you to try it out with your child. You might be amazed at how much you both enjoy it.  

Jazz

There are many different styles of music that are categorized as jazz: traditional jazz, swing, bebop and the many varieties of contemporary jazz. Jazz tends to focus on rhythm, harmony and intricate melodic lines, and often features spontaneous interaction and improvisation.

Children often love the rhythmic drive of jazz music. Once hooked on the beat, they benefit from exposure to the rich assortment of musical patterns.  

World Music

Music from other cultures can enrich your child’s sense of the variety of musical sounds available, especially since this genre often features more unusual instruments. It’s also a really fun way to introduce them to other people and places. Popular music uses standard rhythmic and harmonic patterns that feel comfortable and easy on our ears because of our repeated exposure to those sounds. But when you listen to music from other cultures, it’s like adding an unfamiliar spice!

More than ever before, parents have easy access to a variety of music online. Helping your child explore many genres and sounds at a young age will contribute to a lifetime of musical growth and enjoyment. Happy listening!

 

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About the Author
Rob Sayer

Rob Sayer is founder and director of The Music Class®, a music education organization that offers programs to maximize the musical potential of young children. The Music Class programs are available at over 800 locations worldwide. Rob helped develop the Primrose Schools custom music curriculum Rhythm & Notes®, which fosters a lifelong love of music in children. Rob holds degrees from the Manhattan School of Music and studied at The Juilliard School.