Blogger | Teacher
Henry Wordsworth Longfellow put it best when he said “Music is the universal language of mankind.” Music exists as a language we all understand, despite what genres or bands we might prefer or whether we listen to it every day or only on certain occasions. Our music speaks to a deeper part of our being, one that is important to share with others. For parents, introducing your music to your child can be an amazing bonding experience that will help them feel as though they understand you a little better than they did before.
For me, being around music was never an option. My dad is a talented musician and avid music lover. I like to say that I knew how to sing Maroon 5 and the Dixie Chicks before I could string whole sentences together. Music just existed in my house – there was no definitive start and stop, only Side A and Side B.
The importance of introducing your child to your music lies in both the family experience as well as a personal discovery. As I’ve gotten older, music wasn’t just something I took from my parents – it became something I searched out myself, trying to make sense of my own thoughts with different variations of notes and chords. Even now as I write this, my favorite playlist plays in the background, keeping me on task and pumped up. Being raised on music has made it impossible to exist in silence, so there’s always sound coming from somewhere.
Still, despite going off on my own search for musical inspiration, music still exists for me as a family affair. When I find a new song I think my dad will like, I send it to him. Every Christmas, our home is filled with the classics: Nat King Cole, Billie Holiday, Bing Crosby. My dad has rediscovered his love for vinyl records, and our individual collections continue to grow as we spend time together searching for new albums. My music is mine, but I am also made of the music of those around me.
Here’s the thing – as I said early, our music tastes tell others something deeper about who we are. A friend once described it beautifully when she said that she was sending me her “heart sounds.” It made me realize that our music – especially the songs we listen to on repeat or when no one else is around – sounds the way our hearts do, saying the things we can’t find the words for. And introducing your heart sounds to your child in the form of music can be a great way to help them discover their own music tastes.
Sometimes people’s music tastes are surprising or unexpected. My mom, a fan of Ani DiFranco and The Script, told me once that she listened to a lot of Snoop Dogg back in the day. This surprised me. Not because there was anything strange about my mom listening to Snoop – I’d just never imagined her like that. But hearing that her music tastes when she was my age helped make the image of her in my mind more real: she wasn’t just this larger than life being I called “mom,” she was also a person too.
There’s something about learning about our parents’ favorite music and movies that humanizes them. As we’re growing up, our minds make them almost ethereal – godlike and larger than life. They are all-knowing and seemingly untouchable in some ways. For most of your life, no matter how close you are, there’s always still a wall that separates “friend” from “parent.”
Music doesn’t always bridge that gap, but it does make it feel smaller. By discovering your parents’ hearts sound, you can hear them in a way you couldn’t before. Do they listen to music as a way of getting pumped up before a workout? When they drive home, do they like slow songs or energetic ones? Are there songs that make them cry? How would they like my music as compared to theirs?
Your music says so much more about you than you think it does. Until someone pointed it out to me, I would never have considered my music to be “upbeat and pop-y.” But once she told me that, I began to hear the similar styles of the songs I enjoyed.
Over the last decade, my dad’s music tastes have become a lot more alt-rock than anything, full of Jason Isbell and Strand of Oaks. However, when we work out, he always puts on hard rock or heavy metal. It makes sense – hard rock definitely gets your blood pumping. But it isn’t the music I picture when I think of my dad.
At the end of the day, your children may not like your music. And that’s okay. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of heavy metal, despite listening to it during my daily workouts. The importance of introducing your child to your music isn’t to make them like it, too – it’s so they can know you better and so you can give them a jumping-off point for their own tastes. While my preferences are vastly different than my parents’, Maroon 5 is still on my playlists. I still sing “Traveling Soldier” when I blow dry anyone’s hair. And I will always request Bing Crosby at Christmas.
Listening to my parents’ music gave me a taste of what music can be like. It can be a cure for when your sad, a way to dance when you’re happy, or a way to bond with the people around you. Music is all around us all the time – it exists to be discovered. By introducing your child to your music, you give them the tools to find the wonder of music before they even begin to understand what their music will sound like.
I hope that today you will share a little of your heart sounds, even if it’s playing your favorite album as you make dinner or singing the song stuck in your head as you blow-dry your child’s hair. They may not know it yet, but one day they will be grateful for the music you gave them. Knowing what those deep parts of you sound like will tell them more about you than you could ever say.
About Draven Jackson
Draven is an avid writer and reader who enjoys sharing her opinions on movies, books, and music with the rest of the world. She will soon be working as a teacher in Japan and hopes to use her experience to connect with other teachers and students around the globe. Draven spends most of her time at home with her family, her dogs, and her ferret.
To see more, view all posts by Draven Jackson here.