I had a musician friend--a jazz trumpeter with one of the best ears I've seen--who once shared with me one of the reasons he had such a great ear for music. Every night, after tucking him in, his mother would turn on a record of classical music. Beethoven, Mozart, Brahms, Mahler...my friend would fall asleep listening to the music of the greats.
After a while, though, he stopped just listening to his bedtime music...and started singing with it. Gradually, the singing turned into harmonizing. Thus, every day, my friend would fall asleep singing and harmonizing to music.
This was a significant reason why he had such a great ear.
My kids are now 2.5 and 4.5 and the oldest is about to start piano lessons. Both kids have been around music their whole lives, listening to singing, guitars, piano, and bands. So they are not lacking in exposure to music...for the most part.
My friend's story has stuck with me through the years, primarily because--being a musician myself--I listen to surprisingly little classical music (for the record, by "classical" I'm referring to music from the Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and early 20th Century eras). His story makes me wonder...
Am I depriving my children of important opportunities in their musical development?
If you've read any of my previous posts, it will come as no surprise that I consider music training to be a hugely important component of child development. There are lifelong benefits we can instill in our children by enrolling them in music lessons and both of my kids will have a certain degree of music training.
But music training is about more than being able to read and play music. What about the other part...the listening to music part?
So I've decided to try a little experiment with my kids. I plan to create some mix CDs. A couple CDs will contain great works of classical music (narrowing that down will be triiiiicky). A couple more will contain more musically-sophisticated, popular-type songs.
Then we'll listen to those CDs--in the car, while making dinner, possibly even at bedtime. We will listen to them and see what happens. Will my kids start singing along? Will they ask to listen to specific songs again and again? Will they dance to the music? Or will they ask for me to turn it off and, instead, sing "I'm a Little Teapot" once more?
I am purposefully focusing on classical music because of the depth and sophistication of harmonies, timbres, and structures you don't often get with pop/rock or country music. That said, there are some highly sophisticated songs in those more popular genres, which is why I plan to include some of that music as well.
What do I hope to gain by doing this? In truth, I'm not entirely sure. I don't expect my children to looove classical music. But I guess I hope that it will--literally--open up their ears to new possibilities. Maybe even get excited about new sounds and new music.
With that in mind...do you have any suggestions of songs I should include in those CDs? If so, please let me know in the comment section below!
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