This may sound obvious but if you want a musical home, with children who love music, you have to listen to music. A wide variety of music. A lot! There should be music playing as you go about your daily activities, an effortless accompaniment to life. Music has been proven to help learning, and so having it on in the background will not be a distraction – it will be a tool! It is uplifting and sociable, helping to create and maintain a happy home, filled with energy and fun. Having music playing through all of your child’s important days will give them a bank of triggers to happy memories, which they can call upon forever.
What to Listen To
Keep an open mind about the music that you and your children listen to. Listen to as many genres as you can, and keep looking out for new music. Discover what you like, and explore artists doing similar things. Ask people for recommendations of their favourite songs, and be prepared to try it – you might surprise yourself. Listening to a wide variety of music will keep your mind active, and help your children to develop theirs. Try these genres as a starting point:
You’ve heard the expression that classical music will make your baby clever, but how much truth is in that? Studies have so far been inconclusive, but we do know that it can help your baby’s cognitive development. It can also be soothing and gentle, helping to relax them, and aiding in their concentration. Start with:
- Prokofiev – Peter and the Wolf
- Saint-Saens – Carnival of the Animals
- Britten – A Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra
- Mussorgsky – Pictures at an Exhibition
- Ravel – Mother Goose
- Schumann – Kinderscenen
Classical music for the 20th-century, some of the greatest music written in the last 100 years has been for film! A great introduction to music for children, as they can already relate to the ideas it is representing. Music brings film to life, and evokes in us the most powerful emotions. Start with:
- John Williams – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
- Danny Elfman – Batman
- Klaus Badelt – Pirates of the Caribbean
- Hans Zimmer – Madagascar
Musicals are filled with tracks that are fun, inspiring, and full of energy. The best shows take us through every emotion as they tell their story, and the music is their greatest asset. Children will love the impact that some of these shows will have and, as a bonus, you can take them to watch them live! Start with:
- The Lion King
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
- Little Shop of Horrors
As much as I advocate listening to classical music with children, I also think there is great merit in listening to Top-40 tracks as well! It is important to hear how music is developing, and for kids to stay up-to-date with current trends and artists – if for no other reason than to let their own tastes develop. Start with:
- Ed Sheeran
- Clean Bandit
- The Weekend
- John Legend
- DJ Snake
How to Listen
It’s all very well saying that you should listen to a wide range of music, but how are you supposed to source it all? There are two excellent tools you can use, to ensure an endless supply of music at your fingertips: Youtube and Spotify.
This is fantastic for listening to music, which has been recorded professionally or by amateurs. Anyone can upload videos to Youtube, meaning that you can find some real gems.
- It is completely free!
- You can watch the accompanying videos while listening to the music. This is especially useful when listening to pieces with multiple forms of art, such as ballets, operas, or musicals.
- Related videos are shown to you, so you can explore music you may not have searched for
- Recommendations are given based on things that you like, widening your circle of listening
- There are often adverts to watch (although you can usually skip them after a few seconds
- You cannot download the music, and so must always have an internet connection
- As anyone is able to upload to Youtube, there is a lot of rubbish on there, as well as the good stuff
My favourite means of listening to music, Spotify can be used to listen for free (with adverts) or you may choose to pay a monthly subscription. For just £9.99 per month you can listen to millions of tracks, online and offline, with no adverts, from your computer, mobile or tablet.
- Really simple to use, giving you the ability to create playlists of all your favourite music
- You can listen offline if you pay the subscription fee, allowing you to listen anywhere and everywhere
- It has a ‘Discover’ option, which introduces you to lots of new music
- If you want it without adverts, you have to pay for it (although it’s completely worth it!)