Playing music with children

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Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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24 Responses

  1. Avatar Rose Woodhouse says:

    Got my 4 and a half year old more into listening to what I want by introducing Pandora. I pick a station I like, then let him control thumbs up, thumbs down. He loves it.

    And sometimes I love seeing the way he responds to some kid’s song that obviously speaks to his soul. We had to listen to the Spin Doctors song Tantrum over and over and over, but it was great to see how much he could love a song and how much it could express what he feels!

    I was thinking about this recently. Kids are poor judges of quality, and I certainly was. But it is striking that my favorite books as a kid are ones that I think totally hold up and have a lot of artistic merit (Charlotte’s Web, A Wrinkle in Time). Even though I liked a lot of crap, good stuff wormed its way in.Report

    • Interesting point. I love kids books. Why are young adult and children’s books so good, but the majority of kids music and tv shows so bad? There’s some decent stuff out there – Raffi is pretty good; Sesame Street is fantastic overall. Lots of kids movies are good also, especially Pixar.Report

      • Avatar A Teacher in reply to Erik Kain says:

        Most children’s programming is financed by toy companies so the goal is to be sure that you have a narrative that will work well into how the kids play with the toys as they talk their mom’s into going out and buying them.

        That said, I’m loving some of the shows my kid’s into and wishing that some of his other toys would ~get~ shows to watch. I still like playing Skylanders with him, and kind of wish there was a cartoon to go with it. Of course then I’d just buy more of those silly little figures….Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Erik Kain says:

        Hmmm, last I gandered, children’s TV was better than ever. Back when I was young, the TV shows were so ridiculously geared towards toys. Sort of like how they didn’t put much effort into superhero movies. But at some point they seem to me to have made the effort to actually make them entertaining. Ever compared the He-Man of a couple years ago to the original? Yikes!Report

      • Avatar Plinko in reply to Erik Kain says:

        Check out Laurie Berkner, we love her stuff.Report

  2. Tragically, our son adores/demands just about anything sung by the cast of “Glee.”Report

  3. Avatar Jaybird says:

    I do not know the extent to which this may be a silly question for those of you with young children:

    Have you explored They Might Be Giants with your kids?Report

    • Avatar Rose Woodhouse in reply to Jaybird says:

      Mine likes them, especially the stuff that’s made specifically for kids, but is not head over heels.Report

      • I was (loudly) singing one of their songs (this one!) and Maribou pointed out that it was from a kid’s album.

        I honestly had no idea.Report

        • Avatar dhex in reply to Jaybird says:

          my son (2.5 yrs) loves that alphabet cd. now, tmbg is not my favorite thing by a very, very long shot, but it’s far less brutal than the barney sing-a-long style stuff.

          he also really likes slayer and weakling, which i find both heartening/disturbing. angel of death and the fourth track on dead as dreams in particular are big hits, as is (of all things) burnt by the sun. maybe he just likes yelling? (by others, i know far too well he likes yelling himself)

          basically, if you can march or headbang to it, he’s into it. so i’m spared some of the incessant repetition of insane kids songs, though i do have to wonder…Report

    • Avatar Erik Kain in reply to Jaybird says:

      I keep meaning to do this. The problem is, my daughter can be very stubborn and stuck in her ways…we are still listening to The Nutcracker Ballet months after Christmas. Admittedly, ballet is a fine thing compared to endless cycles of The Wiggles, but when it’s the same ballet over and over again…Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

      Yes. No. Maybe. I don’t know. Can you repeat the question?Report

    • Avatar Plinko in reply to Jaybird says:

      I sang TMBG to rock my daughter to sleep for months when she was a baby, now she could care less when I put them on. She demands music from one of her TV shows or wants to sing a song from toddler school. I need get the Here Come the ABC’s video!Report

  4. Avatar joey jo jo says:

    yo gabba gabba is a good music resource for kids. introduces them to different genres–my daughter loves the ska and reggae stuff on there. lots of great artists appear on the show.Report

  5. Avatar BlaiseP says:

    Quickest way to get a kid to start playing music I’ve ever found: get a little ukelele and tune it up to a major chord. Let ’em whale on it for a good long while.

    Put on some music in that key, let ’em kinda get used to playing along with the song.

    Even with teeny children, get them a thump box and a drumstick, teach them to thump along in time with the song. Soon enough, they can thump and you can play and all goes swimmingly thereafter.Report

  6. Avatar James Hanley says:

    If I may be forgiven for being an obnoxiously proud parent…my 9 year old daughter is learning the recorder this year in school. She’s interested in playing the trumpet next year, so I let her play around with my old trumpet. Within 10 minutes–without me showing her any fingerings, and without a fingering chart–she’d figured out how to play one of her recorder songs on the trumpet.

    Kids and music are indeed a great combination.Report

  7. Avatar Kyle Cupp says:

    I swear, my boy uses half his daily breath to belt out the 80s Transformers theme song. And he will not stop humming during dinner. At least he’s long over the Bob the Builder theme.Report

  8. Avatar Will H. says:

    I have a nephew that could play the Mario theme on several musical instruments just a few years ago. Now he studies violin. I have no idea why he picked that instrument.

    Here is >Maurice Sendak set to music by Carole King. It doesn’t start until about 1:20
    The Carole King makes it more interesting to me than the Sendak.Report

  9. Avatar tofudog says:

    I second Rose’s idea for Pandora. My kids get a kick out of deciding to “thumbs up” or “thumbs down”. I also made the compromise to buy “kids” music but found lots of my favorites from college days were making kids music (TMBG, Dan Zanes formerly of the Del Fuegos) so it wasn’t much of a compromise. Justin Roberts and Ralph’s World were great too. Now my kids are older they enjoy any rock with a lot of energy, so the Ramones are a big hit, as Elvis Costello is too. I let them buy songs on iTunes now, with the caveat that it “cant be crap” (i.e. Miley Cyrus). I’ve got to maintain some quality control!Report

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