Growing With an Appreciation of Music
- Tuesday, September 20, 2011
One of my earliest recollections is of my father singing. I still remember him rocking my younger sister to sleep every night in the creaky maple rocker, singing “Amazing Grace.” That simple melody and uncomplicated text naturally became ingrained on both our hearts. My sister and I can still sing every verse, if tears don’t choke us up.
There was always music in our home. My mother sang constantly. Loud, lusty singing was the soundtrack of housecleaning, cooking, and errands. My infamous bout with chicken pox, during which I infected the entire church kindergarten class and my baby sister before breaking out myself, was also the beginning of my “Patch the Pirate” addiction. I soon wore out many a cassette tape as I loudly sang along with every character.
My father practiced his trumpet in the kitchen, and my failed attempts to make any sound come out of the mouthpiece ensured I would become a violinist some day. My mother kept her oboe in the bedroom, only letting me gaze upon the fragile double reed. My preschool bedroom was furnished with a Mickey Mouse record player and blue Smurf radio alongside the overused tape deck. We ended many evenings with dares of “I can name that hymn in three notes!”
By creating a healthy appetite for good music, exposing their children to diverse musical forms, and acknowledging music as a natural form of human expression, parents teach their children that music is an art to be admired and utilized daily. It is a simple thing for parents to train their children to love and use music—to foster music appreciation within the home.
Parents can begin by playing good music. My husband and I played a variety of great classical music while our children were still in infancy. Choosing from among the best—pieces that have withstood the test of time—developed in us discernment for good form, beautiful melody, intricate harmony, complex rhythm, and appropriate balance. Like reading excellent literature to develop good taste, there is nothing like listening to the classics to train one’s ear.
Infants also love to be sung to. Music creates powerful memories within the brain. Singing a variety of hymns, folk songs, lullabies, and silly songs will not only train the baby to love music, but will also bond the infant to the singer.
Parents further reinforce the baby’s blossoming music education when they sing along with the baby. My young daughter began singing before she could talk. She would wake up the family by cooing melodies in her crib at only a couple of months old. When we would join in her song, she would be delighted and sing even louder. Singing along with infants shows you appreciate their improvisation and musical attempts as they do yours. Parents build on this musical interaction when they play pat-a-cake, say nursery rhymes, and play other rhythmic and musical games with their baby.
Play music often within the home. Marches and rousing symphonies can wake up a sleepy family in the morning. My son sometimes plays Bach or Mozart on his bedroom CD player when he is struggling with math; the patterns clear his thinking. I play calming classical guitar during the stressful evening hours to help calm dinner preparations and the final household cleanup when tempers tend to be short. Listening to godly sacred music before church services helps to turn our hearts toward worship. Wise parents can use music to set the mood within the home.
Parents teach their children about music when they lead in singing to their Creator. Family worship should include a time of learning psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to God (Ephesians 5:19). As a family, we enjoy picking a hymn and learning the words together, discussing what the hymn writer meant by each phrase. A few days later, I will hear the children singing great hymns like “Lead On, O King Eternal” and “The God of Abraham Praise” while doing their chores or riding in the van.
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