August 30, 2011

Tip: Teach Your Children About Music [DaddyTips]

Teaching your children about music does not mean exposing them to Gregorian Chants and Edgard Varese. Or even (shudder) opera. (Unless you like opera. That’s your burden to bear.) I’m talking about the basics. Today’s DaddyTip is Teach Your Children About Music.

This came up the other day when we were in the car and Led Zeppelin came on the radio. “Who’s Led Zeppelin?” my son asked.


I freely admit that I did not do a good job of introducing my children to music. When they were babies, I played Ozzy Osbourne, AC/DC, you know, stuff that babies should listen to. They seemed to like it, mostly the heavy bass lines. (Rudy Sarzo, represent!) The first CD I ever downloaded from iTunes was They Might Be Giants Flood, and it was for my son to listen to in the car. He loved it. Then I got TMBG’s kiddie record, which he also liked, although he preferred Flood. (Particle Man, Particle Man…) Then I made him a Beatles compilation. Got him a Peter Paul and Mary cassette.


You know something? Now that I’m writing all this down, I didn’t do that bad a job. It’s just that as he got older, my son started listening to the radio, and liking some of the songs there. I used to beat myself up about this, telling anyone who would listen that I did a crappy job of exposing my child to good music. After all, why else would he actually think Boom Boom Pow was a good song?

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Then a friend who works in the recording industry asked me what I listened to when I was a lad. I named a bunch of 70’s and 80’s tunes, like Abracadabra by the Steve Miller Band.

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He asked me if I first heard those songs on the radio. I said yes. Ah-HA! So my son is doing the same thing I did. Hm.

Still, regardless of whether or not he decides to fill his iPod with classic rock, he should know what Stairway to Heaven sounds like. So I played it for him. (Interesting side note: Zeppelin is not available on Spotify. If you search for them there, all you get are “tribute” bands. So I went to YouTube and was able to play any Zeppelin song I wanted. Immediately. Smart move, Plant and Page.)

During dinner, I played three Zeppelin songs: Stairway To Heaven (followed by my song parody, Stairway to Clemens, a tribute to former NY Jets quarterback Kellen Clemens), Kashmir, and my personal favorite, the Viking Kittens. What’s that? Led Zeppelin doesn’t have a song called “Viking Kittens”? Well, this pre-YouTube viral video that originally appeared on uses The Immigrant Song. Mostly it was an excuse to watch the Viking Kittens storm the shore, something I need to do about twice a year. It’s an odd need, I admit it. But it’s harmless.

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The point here is that with radio getting cruddier and cruddier (at least in New York City), it’s important to expose your children to music that they won’t otherwise hear. This does NOT mean that you have to be one of those annoying parents who tells everyone how much your child LOVES The Ramones. Lady, your kid is 2. He also loves to look at his feet and giggle uncontrollably. Then again, so do I. Not the point.

Teach your kids about music! That’s it.