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How to Help Your Child Develop a Taste for Classical Music

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How to Help Your Child Develop a Taste for Classical Music

Your children’s musical tastes will no doubt change throughout their childhood. One week they may be humming the tune to their favorite cartoon, and the next they may be rocking out on an air guitar to lyrics you aren’t sure are really appropriate. Keeping up with their music preferences may not be possible as a parent, but instilling an appreciation of music as an art form is.

Classical music is loosely defined as conventional music that has been around for nearly three centuries. In more specific terms, it is “music written in the European tradition during a period lasting approximately from 1750 to 1830, when forms such as the symphony, concerto, and sonata were standardized.” This is music that has stood the test of time, recognizable from one generation to the next.

It seems that somewhere during childhood, kids arrive at the conclusion that classical music is old or boring – often because popular media portrays it that way. In truth, classical music can be enjoyable for the entire family, and for the course of a lifetime. It’s up to parents to introduce the music to their kids in everyday ways and help them see that though musical tastes change, an affinity for classical music is one that will never out of style.

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So how can parents teach that lesson in a way that doesn’t feel so much like a chore? Take a look at these suggestions for introducing your kids to classical music and turning them into lifelong fans.

Don’t overplay it.

There should never be a prescribed amount of time that you must play classical music in your home or car. Turn it on and let it play until someone requests something different. You aren’t going to turn your kids into classical music lovers by forcing them to listen to it for long periods of time. Introduce it in small doses if you must and never insist on it. As your kids become well-versed in the songs you play, ask them which ones are their favorites and take requests. You don’t need to make a grand announcement every time you switch on a classical tune and you certainly don’t need to lecture every time you do. Just play it and let the music speak for itself.

Go to live performances.

Nearly every community has a presentation of The Nutcracker ballet during the holiday season. Your kids will not only be entertained by the action on stage, but will be absorbing the music of Tchaikovsky. It really helps to see action set to classical music, too, because it gives the tunes more of a storyline. If your local high school is having a classical orchestra night or there is another opportunity for classical listening in a live setting, take advantage of it. Most communities have ample opportunities throughout the year for free or inexpensive classical music events, so take advantage of them. Being able to both see and hear the music is a much more powerful experience for children (and you) and will leave a lasting impression.

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Make it a history lesson.

Some of the most famous classical music movements have sordid (or at least interesting) histories. Find out the backstory on some of your own favorite classical music pieces and then share those with your kids. Was it written for a queen? During a time of war? Is there mystery surrounding the music or the composer? Tie the music in with what it means, in the context when it was written and first performed, as well as what it means today. You will likely learn more than you realized about some of your favorite pieces of classical music too.

Teach them a musical instrument.

What better way to appreciate classical music than to learn how to play the instruments used in classical music? If you know how to play an instrument or read music, start there. If not, enroll them in a local music lesson so they can start to enjoy the music that they create. Practicing and preparing for a recital and other performances is also a great way to build self-esteem and confidence that will translate to other areas of their lives. Additionally, when children understand the mechanics of playing a certain instrument, they can better appreciate the movements they hear within classical music pieces.

Incorporate classical music with other activities.

Set aside time each week when your family can sit down and do something together while listening to classical music. It doesn’t have to be a long period of time – just 15 or 20 minutes is enough. Take out coloring books or paints and create alongside each other, or even prepare a meal together while the music plays. By having this specific time set aside, everyone can unplug from whatever else is stressing them out and just enjoy the music and each other. The key is to make it a consistent time, but short and not overbearing.

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Enjoy it.

When you approach classical music as something that your family “should” listen to, kids often resent it. Have your kids ever been overly enthused about eating their vegetables after you’ve insisted they are “good” for them? Probably not, and the same is true with listening to classical music. Don’t tell them why they should listen to it. Just turn it on and enjoy it yourself. If you can really lose yourself in the musical stories, your kids will want to emulate that. They will likely model your behavior long before they do something just because you tell them they should.

If you want your kids to truly appreciate and enjoy classical music, they need to see you loving it too. Even if they give you a hard time about playing classical music at first, keep at it. Enough exposure will have them tapping their own toes and humming along to their favorites. Before long you’ll be able to add listening to classical music to your list of activities that your family enjoys doing together.

How often do you listen to classical music in your house? What are some of your favorites?

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Featured photo credit: dora dora 2/Philippe Put via flickr.com

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Jennifer Paterson

President of California Music Studios

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Last Updated on October 7, 2021

Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important (And How To Do So)

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Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important (And How To Do So)

In today’s chaotic world, having family time isn’t always easy. It can get pretty hard to coordinate schedules, especially if the family is large. Life demands that we work, attend school, nurture friendships, hobbies, etc. All of those things are extremely time-consuming and important—but so is spending time with your family.

Why is family time so important? Because we all need love and support, and a good, strong family can provide that regularly. For children, spending time with their family helps shape them into good, responsible adults, improve their mental health, and develop strong core values.

There are many positive effects of spending time with your family. My family and I, for instance (and this includes grandchildren as well), meet every Tuesday night for dinner and games. My older son and I take turns cooking. This gives all of us a chance to try some new recipes. After dinner, we play games. And without fail, they inspire competitiveness and laughter. As family night has evolved, the grandkids have invited their friends over as well, creating the need for more chairs but also expanding our circle of fun.

Aside from the obvious fun and games, there are other reasons why spending time with your family is paramount. In this article, I will provide you with multiple reasons why spending time with your family regularly is a win-win. And then, I will lay out some ways on how to do it.

Let’s get started, shall we?

Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important

Here are six reasons why it’s important to spend time with your family.

1. Provides the Opportunity to Bond

When you spend time together as a family—talking about your day, your highs, your lows—it fosters communication. As parents, it gives you the chance to listen to your children, to hear them out, to learn about what’s going on in their world. It also provides you with the opportunity to use life situations as teaching moments.

Before our Tuesday night dinner/game nights, my family used to see each other pretty regularly but not consistently, especially the grandkids. Our family night changed all that. Now, it’s guaranteed that the grandchildren, along with some of their friends, will be there. Not only do I get to find out what’s been happening in their lives, but they also get to know us better. It’s creating memories they can treasure forever, as well as modeling the Get-Together tradition for when they eventually have families of their own.

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“Spending time partaking in everyday family leisure activities has been associated with greater emotional bonding within families.”[1]

2. Teaches the Value of Family

Taking the time to be with your family lets your children know they are valued—that spending time together is a priority. I know that in today’s world, both parents are busy as both usually working. What better way to let your children know they are loved than by carving out time each week to spend with them?

According to Marilyn Price-Mitchell, Ph.D., “words like honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility, and courage are core to centuries of religious, philosophical, and family beliefs. Use them and others to express and reinforce your family values. Teach children the behaviors that flow from these principles. Use quotes to ignite meaningful dinner conversations and encourage kids to talk about these values.”[2]

3. Enhances Mental Well-Being

Spending that quality time together gives your children a safe platform in which to express themselves, ask questions about things that are bothering them, or talk about their day and things they’ve learned. I know that my 9-year old granddaughter can’t wait until it’s her turn to talk about her day. She usually goes on and on and has to be stopped to give everyone else a chance to talk about their goings-on.

“Research shows the quality of family relationships is more important than their size or composition. Whoever the family is made up of, they can build strong, positive relationships that promote wellbeing and support children and young people’s mental health.”[3]

For children, having the opportunity to seek advice from parents they trust—as well as being able to have a sounding board and help with problem-solving—is priceless. In addition, being able to voice their opinions and be heard—and to feel like what they have to say matters—is an esteem-builder. All of these can have a very impactful positive effect on their well-being.

4. Helps the Child Feel Loved

How do you think a child feels knowing their parents want to spend time with them—talking, sharing experiences, playing games, listening to them? It will make them feel as though they are important, and a child that feels important is happier and more apt to thrive. Setting aside chores or work to spend time with your children demonstrates that they’re essential—that they matter. What a gift to give your child!

“If a child has your undivided attention, it signals that they are loved and important to you. This can be further nurtured by experiencing joyful activities together, as it demonstrates that you want to spend time with your children over and above all of the daily demands.”[4]

5. Creates a Safe Environment

If you regularly spend time with your children, you are also creating an atmosphere of trust. The more trust they have, the more likely they are to share with you what’s going on in their world. As they get older, you’re going to want to know. Negative influences can show up at any time, but if you’ve always been there for your child, they are more apt to come to you and ask for your advice.

Spending time together generates familiarity and feelings of being supported. When a child feels safe and comfortable, they’re more likely to open up. This is one way to get to know your child and know what’s on their minds. Are they okay? Do they need your guidance? If so, how?

6. Reduces Stress

This is significant. We all suffer from stress at one point or another in our lives. Spending time with family helps alleviate that stress. It’s an opportunity to talk things out, get feedback, and maybe brainstorm for a solution to the problem that is causing the stress.

According to Brandy Drzymkowski, “During the holidays, your closest five people probably shifts to family and friends. You may even get to see loved ones who live far away. Good news! This can actually help lower your stress levels. Studies show ‘face-to-face interaction…counteracts the body’s defensive ‘fight-or-flight’ response.’ In other words, quality time spent with loved ones is nature’s stress reliever.”[5]

So, now that you know some of the benefits, what are some ideas for making family time happen?

How to Make Family Time Happen

Here are four things you can do to make family time happen and spend more time with them.

1. Family Dinners

This, as I said above, is a wonderful way to spend time together. While you’re having dinner, you have the chance to discuss things that are going on in your lives—the ups, the downs, and everywhere in between. It’s like having a buffer against life’s challenges.

Aside from that, eating dinner together has many additional benefits. Studies have shown that for kids who eat regularly with their families, there is less risk of substance abuse, teen pregnancy, and depression.[6]

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“Our belief in the ‘magic’ of family dinners is grounded in research on the physical, mental and emotional benefits of regular family meals.” It further states, “We recommend combining food, fun and conversation at mealtimes because those three ingredients are the recipe for a warm, positive family dinner—the type of environment that makes these scientifically proven benefits possible.”[7]

According to Parenting NI, “children and adolescents who spend more time with their parents are less likely to get involved in risky behavior. According to studies done by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse via Arizona State University, teens who have infrequent family dinners are twice as likely to use tobacco, nearly twice as likely to use alcohol and one and a half times more likely to use marijuana.”[8]

As you can see, there are multiple benefits to spending time with each other routinely. You can’t go wrong with this family activity.

2.  Regular Movie Nights

This is another fun event, although, from personal experience, I have to caution that choosing a movie that everyone wants to see is not easy. So, give yourselves plenty of time so you don’t spend two hours searching for a movie, and then end up watching no movie at all because the night is practically over. Try and choose a movie before the day, if possible.

Afterward, open it up for discussion. Ask questions pertinent to the movie. What do you think of ABC? Should they have done that? Would you have done something differently? There are so many questions you can ask to spark a conversation and keep the night going.

3. Game Night

This is another occasion for great fun. If you have a competitive spirit, it makes it even more fun. There are numerous games out there—Balderdash, Pictionary, Apples to Apples, Charades, to name a few—that can create fun havoc. All I can say is, on game nights, don’t take yourself too seriously. It’s okay if you lose the game. The fun is in being together, laughing, debating, and having a good time.

In addition, “Playing board games is great for children for many reasons besides the obvious; it’s fun to play games! Age appropriate games can help children to think strategically, solve problems creatively, work on pattern recognition and build simple math skills. They also help children develop social skills such as following rules, taking turns, and graceful winning or losing. Additionally, a family game night provides an opportunity for children to bond with siblings, parents and family members as well as peers. It can promote tradition building and establish a fun routine.”[9]

So, go find your family a game and start having fun!

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4. Sharing a Hobby

If you and one of your kids like to do the same things, do it more often. For example, my oldest son and his teenage son go on long bike rides together on the weekends. Not only do they get to exercise, but they also get to talk and look at beautiful sceneries. They’ve also incorporated cooking into their routine. They plan the meal, shop, and prepare—activities that bring them closer together.

Sharing a hobby is a great way to bring family members together. It bonds people in amazing ways. According to Alison Ratner Mayer, LICSW, “One of the easiest and most important ways to build a child’s self-esteem is to spend time with them doing something not only that they enjoy but something that you also enjoy. There is a special magic that happens between a parent and a child when they share a mutually beloved activity. It sends the message to the child that their parents are having fun, true, honest, real fun, with them.”[10]

Final Thoughts

Spending time with the family is an investment. It is an investment in the happiness, well-being, and security of that system. It can also serve as a way to break out of the daily rut and the constant worldly demands, while at the same time, building a strong family unit.

Even though it isn’t always easy to find the time, finding the time is key to staying close and to providing and receiving love and support. There is no greater gift than the gift of time. That’s what we all seem to be missing nowadays. So, in giving that gift consistently, everyone feels loved and appreciated.

The family that takes the time to interact regularly is typically happy. They know they are part of a tribe, and that’s essential in today’s chaotic world. To know that there are people whom you can count on—people who will have your back in times of need—is invaluable.

Now, go and plan something plan with your family, if you haven’t already.

Featured photo credit: Jimmy Dean via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Pittsburgh Parent: Spending Time Together—Benefits of Family Time
[2] Roots of Action: Integrity: How Families Teach and Live Their Values
[3] Beyond Blue: Healthy Families
[4] Esperance Anglican Community School: The importance of family time
[5] Brandy Drzymkowski: Spending Time With Loved Ones Reduces Stress
[6] Harvard Graduate School of Education: Harvard EdCast: The Benefit of Family Mealtime
[7] The Family Dinner Project: BENEFITS OF FAMILY DINNERS
[8] Parenting NI: The Importance of Spending Time Together
[9] WNY Children: Family Game Night- The Benefits of Game Play
[10] Child Therapy Boston: The Benefits of Sharing a Hobby With Your Child

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