Saturday, 14 January 2012

the power of music

Music is an important part of our days.

We are music lovers - we have always been, and as a matter of fact, we have made it a priority for 2012 to significally increase the amount of time spent playing music ourselves while we are together.

But as parents, we have not always used music as a parenting tool.  We started doing so when we realized it's power when used appropriately.

Music is indeed powerful with young children (and dare I say for adults too?).  We have, many time, salvaged what seemed like completely out of control situations by using the right music.  I feel music change the atmosphere of a room, and acts on the environment just like beauty of material or cleanliness does.  Just like clutter acts negatively on children (and most adults), inappropriate music, or sound for that matter, will do exactly the same: it drains their energy and their power of concentration.  Base on our experience, this leads to a tired and whinny child that has a hard time slow down.  X is particularly affected by sound and music, and annoying sounds or really upbeat music really has a toll on him quickly, and even more when he is already tired.

We have seen this again during the holidays.  Not being home for a long period of time, we didn't have as much power on the surrounding noises and music.  We saw the effects almost instantaneously on him, and after a while, the others started showing the same signs: restlessness, loss of concentration, and even aggressivity.  X really is our barometer for that.  Thankfully, we had the right tools to help them get back on a more peaceful track.

Our use of music:

We use music through out the day, and the genre varies according to what I am wishing the atmosphere to be.

  • We usually wake to either no music, or light classical music that is not too dramatic. When things are too hectic, I use similar music to a lower level to help create a calming atmosphere
  • When I want to create a cheerful atmosphere that leads to singing, dancing of just having fun, we mostly use music of the world, or Jazz music.  These are our current favourite.
  • We also love to make our children discover the music WE love.  Rock, light rock, pop are all used, but lightly, and at appropriate times.  They regularly ask for The Beatles, and other timeless groups we had them acquainted with.  Mind you, we carefully select the music we let them hear, and we know to not overabuse that!
  • Dancing is always welcome around here, and the kids choose what they want, when they want.
  • When we are concentrating, we mostly do not use music.  But when we do, or if we need to block out annoying surrounding noises, I use either nature music, or new age music.  I feel it is best when concentrating, since there is no tune to it.
  • We also use music to learn.  About the orchestra, or the instruments.  We make a point for our children to hear traditional music from our corner of the world.  We feel it teaches them about their roots.
  • During meals, we don't use music.  Our chatter is the best music we can have.  But around mealtimes, music is really important.  When children are hungry and cannot wait for dinner to be ready, I usually direct them to music.  
  • Music is paramount at bedtime.  Every child has a small radio in his room, with a small selection of soothing music.  But I have to admit that they don't change it often.  They each use the same disc night after night.  X had requested guitar, M piano, and we gave E violin music.
Tomorrow, I'll be posting our current choices and favourites discs.

Is there music playing all the time here: NO.  
We know and value the importance of silence through out the day.  Maria Montessori insisted that silence is something that needs to be taught, and had silence game regularly in her children's houses.  I have to admit that we don't play the silence game here.  But we have many (if not most) time during the day when there is no music and no noises in the house.  Sometimes, you would not believe there is 3 kids into the house.  But like everybody else, we are surely not perfect, and something you'd think there are 10...These are the times when the soothing cd's get out and are being played as long as necessary.

What do we do when we are out and away?
In the car, we also have a selection of calming and soothing music to help wind down if needs to be.  We also have music to sing to, and more upbeat music (mostly music of the world).  While we are visiting, we usually carry a MP3 player that contains ONLY a selection of carefully chosen music for our children.  We have rules surrounding the use of the device, and X and M know that they can only use it if they respect those rules.
Don't ge me wrong here.  We do not allow our children to spent a lot of time being "plugged in"  But in special situation, when time comes, we feel it is a good way to respect the needs of our children, when we are not in our own home.

A side effect that I am really liking with this is the fact that we are becoming more knowledgable about music.  Kids now recognize famous pieces of music when they hear them, and we have started to name the ones we like best, so that we know their names too.

Do you use music on your home?  If so how, and what is your favourite music?  I'd love to have new recommendations to add to our music library!  I'm really getting fond of having that.

See you tomorrow for part 2


  1. this post if really inspiring to explore music from around the world.

    right now ramona listens to the andrew bird pandora station in the car (light rock/pop with tons of whimsy). at home it's the rockabye lullabyes (which i am quickly getting so sick of) and whatever her papa puts on the record player.

    after reading this, i'm considering being more picky about the music we play though we don't have music on all the time so it's more like a treat when it is on.

    sticking with tried and true musicians (like the beatles) sounds like a good plan!

  2. Hello Emily :)
    I'm glad this post was inspiring to you.
    We don't have music all the time either. And so when we have it on, we really appreciate it more. I feel that when music is always on, it becomes more like a background noise rather then something to be listened to and enjoyed.

    I'll have loads of suggestions tomorrow, I hope it can inspire you some more!

  3. Thank you for this. I so agree with the the importance of both music and silence. Otherwise the music becomes just background noise that is not appreciated.
    I would love too hear your recommendations and any books you have found on music for the kids.
    I have been planning to approach music in a bit of a structured way for myself to pass on to my daughter - like going right back to the roots and following it through, so old european folk, through to the blues etc.

  4. Hi Rach!

    IN my next post, you'll find some suggestions about CD books that talks about music, orchestra, composers and so on.
    As for recommendations for only books, I'm working on a post about that. Hopefully it will be ready soon.
    THank you for your comment!

  5. I love your dancing feet photos! Our daughter, Eva, LOVES to sing and dance. My eyes also latch on to those baby booties. That is one of my favorite hobbies, knitting booties. Did you make those?

  6. Oh did I mention what carpet sweeper I decided on? :) It's child sized and can extend the length of the handle.

  7. Thank you!

    Yes, I love making things for my kids...when I have time for it :)
    I love the carpet cleaner you choose. I'd love to have feed back once you get it have Eva has tried it a few time!

    Signing and dancing really is big here too. Funny how time changes that. Most kids are ashamed to sing when they get older. Sad huh?