If you or your friends have kids, you have probably noticed that from a very young age, they tend to shake themselves around to the rhythm of any music that is playing. While there are certain types of simplistic, repetitive pop music that we think of as “children’s music”, you will notice that most kids are not very picky about what they will dance to. If, for example, you take you kid to a bluegrass concert, you will see them bounce up and down with the bass notes, while you enjoy the musical intricacies of the performance. Just because music appeals to kids, it does not necessarily mean its childish music that you should dismiss; rather, you can try and find a common sonic ground that both you and your child can enjoy.
A great example of music that will appeal to both parents and children is Not for Kids Only, an album of family friendly traditional folk songs recorded by David Grisman and Jerry Garcia (of Grateful Dead fame). The album is simple and fun for children to enjoy, but the mandolin and guitar playing is also very sophisticated and beautiful. It’s an album that anyone would enjoy.
If you play an instrument yourself and you are hoping to encourage your child to play as well, finding a common ground is crucial. If you feel like you are just indulging them by listening to silly, annoying music, it will be difficult to get excited about it. If, on the other hand, you dig deep into your collection — or better yet explore the extensive playlists available on Spotify — you should be able to find something that you can enjoy performing for your child. Soon enough you could get them jamming along with a tambourine or on a xylophone. It is never too early to learn an instrument, even if it does not sound like anything for the first while, your child will be empowered and delighted by the realization that they can produce rhythmic, melodic noise.
Another piece of music in the spirit of Not for Kids Only is a new record called Not For Kids Really by Canadian folk musician Dan Latner. These catchy folk songs are certainly fun to listen to, but they are a little more risqué than most children’s albums, intended for a more mature audience. Still, it’s definitely worth checking out.
If you are looking after a young child on a day-to-day basis, playing music is surely one of the best ways to pass the time in a fun and productive manner. If you are a musician, you can simultaneously practice and provide entertainment for your child. Furthermore, having an audience who just wants something fun and simple will remind you not to take playing music so seriously.
The musician Beck allegedly used his kids as a sounding board for every song on his new record, Colours, the idea was that there is a value in creating fun, catchy songs that just make people feel good. By helping your child appreciate the value of music, you may end up teaching yourself the value of fun.