John King is the director of Monkey Rock Music, which offers music classes for young children (ages 0-4 years) and their adult caregivers in Ottawa and Montreal.
Let’s be honest - listening to kids’ music is the worst
Sharing music with your child from a young age will result in a lifelong interest in being a part of music. That interest will hopefully lead to wanting to take dance lessons, singing lessons, piano lessons, or at least the high score in Guitar Hero. But most kids’ music is saccharine, canned drum beat, earworm garbage.
Fortunately, sharing music with your child does not have to mean children’s music by any stretch of the imagination. Share the music YOU love. Dance around your kitchen with your baby to Drake, crank Cardi B in the car, start a toddler mosh pit to Nirvana. Your child will take your love of music from you and run with it. This, above all else, will make music meaningful for your children.
This is why Monkey Rock Music always includes a rock and roll sing along in their classes, something parents know and can get into - Wonderwall, Shake It Off, Brown Eyed Girl, etc. Our album might be the only hard rock kids’ music on the market. Amps at 11.
Engaging in music
The key to engaging anyone in music is to make it easy to be a part of - sick beats make you want to dance; catchy riffs make you want to sing along. One of the biggest mistakes music teachers make is to try and ‘teach’ music at too young an age. For toddlers, the only goal should be to show them they can be a part of music - and it can be fun.
Music for young children should be 100% participatory, with simple, repetitive actions - ideally with interactions between parent and child. Programs should balance introducing new songs to keep things interesting, with repeating past songs to help young singers learn the music and lyrics. We even provide families with videos of our staff performing the songs, so kids can practice at home while still maintaining that connection to their weekly rock star hero.
The point: You need to have fun
Don’t do any music program with your kids that you don’t enjoy. You set the tone in all things for your child from the moment they’re born, and if you’re not having fun, they can tell. The best parent/child programs get this, and will focus as much on your enjoyment as the babies’ - being a parent of a young child is HARD, and any classes you take should make it easier.