The Desired Effect of Music On Child: Transform Him or Her Into An Angel!

1) Music for Young Child: The “Why?”
2) The Theory
3) The Practical Application

1) Music for Young Child: The “Why?”

Imagine that your child has gone to the basement (or some play room) to play with his or her toys. Often what the child will hear is either silence or the noise of the toys An excellent way to boost the quality of the play time of your child is to play background music.

Anthropologist A. P. Merriam in his book The Anthropology of Music says,Guest Posting “there is probably no other human cultural activity which is so all-pervasive and which reaches into, shapes, and often controls so much of human behavior.”(*1)

What is he talking about here?

He is talking about the power of music on a person.

However, the effects of music on children are much more powerful on children than for an adult. The reason is that children are in their formative years, and therefore whatever music your child is exposed to has a much more profound result than most people would realize.

In today’s world, we are bombarded by the media. Television, movies, videos, and multimedia presentations are enhanced by music. With music either as a main element or in the background, the media know the power of music on people, including children.

“You can never get silence anywhere nowadays, have you noticed?”
-Bryan Ferry

So you can really shape a very big part of your child’s world by the music you play for him or her.

2) The Theory: How to select the Music for your child:

There’s been a lot of talk about the effect of music on children. How to make children become smarter. How to make them better listeners. How to get them to study better. And so on. The music industry has turned this idea into a multimillion-dollar industry, focusing the market on concerned parents and educators who want the best for the children under their wings.

The truth is that choosing good music for your child should not be a rocket science. You don’t have to rely on scientific studies to justify your purchases. It boils down to understanding some simply principles of music.

Let’s take a closer, more fundamental look at music. In a very basic sense, there are two parts to music:A) the notes and B) the lyrics.

A) The Notes:

The musical note is defined here as found in dictionary.com: “A tone of definite pitch.” Musical notes can be produced by musical instruments, or any device that produces wordless sounds.

The effects of instrumental music (such as is found in classical music) on children and their aptitudes and attitudes has been under much study. Even back in the 1930’s (Fendrick, 1937, as cited in Koppelman & Imig, 1995)(*2), there were studies of the effects of music on children. Recently, one of the better known of these studies is “the Mozart Effect”. Much of the original work was revealed in 1993, publicized by co-researcher Dr. Gordon Shaw. It was a study on the effect of listening to music that resulted in better exam scores. Other researchers, such as Davidson and Powell (1986)(*3), showed the beneficial effects of background music in classrooms.

But let’s get one thing straight. Studies or no studies, it is pretty clear that listening to music definitely does one thing to a person: it affects the listener emotionally.

“Music is the shorthand of emotion.”
-Leo Tolstoy

Go to any classical music or rock concert, and you will see clearly that slow sad music will make a person’s emotional state turn towards the melancholy. Fast-paced happy music will bring a person to a more cheerful state. So the formula would actually be quite simple: state of music = state of mind. Children, being the emotional “sponges” that they usually are, will pick up very quickly on the state of the music being played to them.

B) The Lyrics:

The next thing to look at are the lyrics. Once again we can look at the dictionary.com definition for our purposes: “Of or relating to a category of poetry that expresses subjective thoughts and feelings, often in a songlike style or form.” So the lyrics are the words, and therefore most often than not the message of the song. Words are very powerful in their effect on listeners.

“Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful.”
-Rita Dove

This goes right to the heart of what you want to expose your kids to in the world of music. Ask yourself: what kind of message do you want your kids to get? There are all kinds of songs on the market.

There are songs about being good people, and that we should all love one another. That we should learn to forgive and forget, to treat your fellow neighbor kindly. That we should seek happiness in healthy pursuits. That we should behave responsibly to one another…..

There are also songs about cool (kid) pornography and sex, hating your parents and teachers, or it’s cool to beat up other kids. That it’s “in” to smoke dope, or experiment with this or that drug. That it’s “ok” to cheat in school or on your boyfriend/girlfriend……

What messages do you want your kids to have? So we can have another formula here: nature of message = nature of thinking/attitude. Once again, what do you want your kids to have?

3) The Practical Application: The Notes and Lyrics, and the Decision-Making Process

Having this in mind, it can become pretty clear how you can make your decisions, as a parent, what kind of music do you want your child to listen to. Based on what we’ve been looking at above, we can look at the two fundamental questions that you can ask of your own dear child:

Looking at musical notes: what state of mind do you want your child to be in? To help you with your answers here are some suggestions:
happy, active: fast-paced, cheerful music (e.g. lots of drums, cymbals)
calm, focused: slower, more basso-based music (e.g. pianos and cellos)
sleepy: very slow, long, lyrical music. (e.g. soft wind instruments such as flutes)

Looking at lyrics: what messages do you want your children to receive? It would do well for you to do a bit of research and find out what is being said by the singers or narrators throughout the songs you are interested in buying for your children. Here are some questions you can ask yourself: are there any lyrical indications of:
aggression or violence? (there are many who say even one moment in an hour-long song is too much)
peace, love and sharing?
the correct level of emotional maturity for the child? (e.g. a song about the pains of divorce might be too hard and confusing for a child of a happily married couple)

Little 6-year-old Eddy loved that song. Over and over again he listened to that song about the Eagles of Red Tree. It was a fascinating song about Good Eagles and Bad Eagles, and how the the Good Eagles fought against the Bad Eagles and tried to save the world. Eddy loved the story, the songs, and the narratives. But the part he remembered the most is when Dark Eagle came down and swooped and took beautiful Anisella away, and killed her. It troubled him somehow, but there was something mystical and appealing about this. What Dark Eagle did, perhaps it’s just part of life, perhaps not. Little Eddy wanted to be like Dark Eagle, wouldn’t that be so cool…?

And the scary thing about little Eddy is that unless he told someone, NO ONE would have any clue as to what was going on in his head.

So you must ask yourself: what kind of role model do you want for your child? Setting up your child with good role models are the best investment a parent can make. And on the other side, badly made decisions based on short-term impulsive thinking can have disastrous effects on children over the long term.

Bear in mind that because of today’s technology, songs can be played over and over again. The effect, naturally, is that anything that enters the child’s mind will have a profound effect on his or her thinking and attitudes. In other words, children can easily be “brainwashed” by what they hear over and over again. Parents and educators need to consider the profound effects that even one phrase or piece within in a song can have on a child. Even more so entire songs with all their messages need to be taken into consideration.

In making decisions on what kind of music to buy for your child, wouldn’t the two elements, the notes and the lyrics, when properly thought out, help you make the right decisions for your child for a very long time?

So as a conclusion, let’s summarize the steps needed to help buy the right music for your child’s play time:

1) visualize the ideal scenario that you want for your child’s play time. Factor in mainly their energy levels and the time of day. Some examples are:

a) It’s just before bedtime, and you want your kids to calm down and relax (soft melodious tunes)
b) It’s before supper, and your children are tired. You want to give them a bit of an energy booster to last them until later in the evening when it is their bedtime. (lively upbeat tunes)
c) It’s the middle of the day, and you want to grab their attention. (snappy fast-paced tunes)

2) What kid of messages do you want to expose to your child? Examples:

a) Interpersonal relationships (e.g. love, sharing, etc.)
b) Coping strategies (e.g. how people have suffered, and then come out of their suffering in honorable ways )
c) Religious or belief-in-higher-power themes (e.g. faith and belief in God, New Age)

3) Do you want your children to choose the music from a selection that you have preslected for them? (The answer to this is according to the degree of independence that the parent wants to give to the child).

So…..before you buy any music for your child, listen to it. Read the lyrics. Don’t be afraid to explore. Go on the internet. Often you can download free samples of music, to get an idea. And then buy the music, and watch your children turn into angels….

Warmly,

Joseph Browns, President
Home Educational Toys

Devoted to Bringing Parents and Children Closer Together…In The Home!

Footnotes:

1) A. P. Merriam, The Anthropology of Music (Chicago: Northwestern
University Press, 1964), p. 218.

2) Koppelman, D., & Imig, S. (1995). The Effect of Music on Children’s Writing Content. University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 383 002).

3) Davidson, C.W., & Powell, L.A. (1986). Effects of easy-listening background music on the on-task-performance of fifth-grade children. Journal of Educational Research, 80(1), 29-33.

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