One of my fondest memories as a kid was listening to Kiss’s “Paul Stanley” record and imagining myself onstage with Paul, Ace, Peter, and Gene. I was lucky – even as a 3 and 4-year-old – to have a father who loved music, had a great record collection, and made a point every week of taking me to the record shop to pick out a new record. Many of those records still sit in my collection, memories of those times with my father and a marker of my life – in music – from a very early age.
Sharing music is so fun and easy with kids, but helping kids from an early age grow into a sense of their own taste and preference in music might not seem so easy. Really, though, it’s just a matter of starting with sharing the music you love with your kids and gradually creating experiences where your own kids can start to pick out what they love.
- Curate a playlist of a variety of kinds of music and let your kids guide you to what they love. My early days of parenting my son – now 10 and a huge Sturgill Simpson and Jason Isbell fan – involved watching youtube videos of musicians from Glenn Kotche to Steve Reich and anything in between. I created music mixes for him that had soul, hip hop, bluegrass, metal, pop – you name it – and let him lead me to the things he preferred.
- If you can get to a record store, take your kids shopping for used vinyl. One of the great things about shopping for vinyl is that it’s a physical experience, from holding a cool gatefold through dropping the needle. Used vinyl is cost-effective and letting kids pick out a few records, put them on the turntable, and experience the physical act of putting needle to vinyl is exciting and can give your child a sense of responsibility both for picking out music and handling records. No audiophile snobbery or parent freak-outs allowed!
- No record store? Cruise Apple Music, Amazon Prime Mixes, or Spotify and let your child’s reaction guide you to more music for them. The beauty of digital music services is that they open millions of songs, genres, styles, and artists to your and your child. Take the opportunity to download some tracks, create some cool playlists, and wait to see what sparks your child’s excitement, what they hum along to, and what you find them singing a day later. And let them lead you to more music!
- Create a time and space for picking and playing music in your home. Our dinner time is a great time for us to encourage our children to “be in charge of the turntable” or to “pick the music.” We love to have our kids be responsible for what music plays in our home: it creates a chance for our kids to express themselves through the music they love and also encourages our other children to hear what their siblings love, be exposed to new things and (even) learn some tolerance for things they don’t enjoy.
- Pick up a low-cost mp3 player or turntable for your child and curate playlists with and for them or buy a raft of records for them to experiment with. It’s exciting to have your kids be able to bring the music they love with them and it’s simple to find an old, small mp3 player (I’m staring at an iPod shuffle we have, but you can find even more cost effective options on eBay) that you can load with playlists that you put together for your child or you put together together. And more than ever, finding low-cost vinyl players is easy: you and your children can pick up a great turnable – we love this cool player by Crosley. Head to a vinyl or second hand store, pick up a fistful of vinyl, and let them play!
Music is so fun and easy to share with your child and another great way for you to let them grow into their own tastes. What ideas do you have about the best way to help your child get an early start into music? Share them with us!
About the Author
Bill Anderson is a father of 4 who shares his experiences about parenting and life with Guidepost Parent.
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