For the little ones, the songs were, are and will be a great stimulus for learning and entertainment: to move, to sharpen your musical ear, to have fun, to broaden your vocabulary, to play statues, to invent choreography and so much more.
Today a very particular phenomenon occurs, thanks to the accessibility and variety of music, we all listen to everything. However, we do not always take advantage of this possibility to select from the extensive menu and introduce them to classical music, or great historical songs from national rock, folklore or hits from our childhood. Rather, it seems that we all hear the same thing and that the chords are reduced, to the point that we seem to be always listening to the same song.
Without going into technical musical questions, we would like to stop and think what happens with the little ones. In each era we have many talented musicians and composers, who especially dedicate their musical pieces to the youngest, speaking directly to them, engaging them with stories, melodies and characters. We cannot stop naming María Elena Walsh as a great icon of children’s musical history, but there are also many artists of our times who produce beautiful songs.
Music was always heard at Marisa’s house. A few years ago, the great minicomponent had a preponderant place in the living room of the house, which was now replaced by a little speaker and a device with all the musical platforms available. Both her husband Gustavo and their children share their passion for music, and when someone comes to visit, it is rare that a song is not heard in the background. When her children Tomás and Clara, who are 16 and 14 today, were young, they had their own musical moments, and Gustavo had also implemented a family dynamic for Friday nights, in which he made them listen to some historical album, of various musical genres. Over the years, the tradition was lost and the youngest in the house, 3-year-old Valentin never had special songs.
In recent years, Tomás and Clara took absolute control of the musicalization, both at home and when traveling by car. Marisa and Gustavo resigned, they listened to “their music” only when they were alone, or on their headphones when they went out for a run. One Sunday, in the middle of a family barbecue, grandfather was struck by seeing little Valentine talking alone in a corner of the garden. He approached and discovered that he was singing, he approached more curious, and to his surprise, Valen sang even more clearly than he spoke in everyday life, a song with phrases with strong sexual connotations, aggressive words, insults, and so on.. When he approached the parents to tell them, concerned, his response surprised him even more: “Let him sing, if he totally doesn’t understand what the lyrics say.”
Any of us could be Marisa and Gustavo, and any of our children, Valen. As we said, the speed and magnitude of the penetration of music is an avalanche difficult to stop, that rarely leaves us with the energy to reflect and make conscious decisions. If everyone does it, if everyone listens to it, if the little ones listen to these songs even on children’s birthdays and if the animators do not play them, they even claim them.
We think it’s worth stopping and stopping the ball. This is not a losing battle and if it is about preserving the childhood of our children, no fight is.
Beyond musical tastes and styles, It is important to stop at what the songs communicate through their lyrics. In many situations of violence, sexual abuse, or drug use appear, more or less explicitly. What happens in the brain of the very young when they hear them? They naturalize, normalize these situations. Babies, children and adolescents, in each one it impacts differently, but in all it influences. It is not free to be repeating these phrases all day that become catchy even to ourselves.
A few days ago we found this on Twitter: “Do you know what happens if we normalize children listening to and repeating songs with sexual content? Tomorrow they will not know how to distinguish a pervert who says obscene things to them, or wants to do the things that the song says, because for them it will be something natural. To think.
However, it is not all about sexual matters, We also find in the songs a naturalization of violence and addictions, themes that always concern us parents, and that require a lot of dialogue with our children.
It is implausible to believe that they will not listen to these songs, or sing them, but it is our responsibility as adults, not to leave them alone, and to accompany them in this as well.
Some ideas to get the best out of music
- Let’s not stop offering the little ones music, as well as other content according to their age. Of course, when there are older brothers on the rebound, they also listen to other things. But far from “not understanding anything”, they understand a lot. Let us creatively seek the moments and take advantage of the accessibility to introduce them to children’s songs of yesterday and today.
- Let us adults listen to the “fashion songs” (although it is difficult for our ears), and let’s take advantage of their lyrics as a trigger to converse with our children. When we propose this, many parents tell us that their children are too young to talk about these issues, because then, they will not also be young to listen to songs that relate them with catchy rhythms. Let’s listen to them with them, let’s ask what they understand about what they sing, what they believe, what they think. Those conversations are always worth it, and surely many more questions will arise than we imagine.
- We know that fashion always tends to standardize and massify. Everyone hears the same thing, all the songs are alike. Develop a critical sense and help them discover their own musical taste, beyond what is imposed. For this, it can be interesting to navigate through different rhythms, from different times. Challenge the algorithm that suggests what to listen to, and encourage us to choose ourselves. A simple way to implement it can be to take advantage of certain moments at home (dinner on Thursday for example, or Sunday afternoons), or trips by car, so that each member of the family chooses a song. Building collaborative lists is an excellent resource. Commit all of us to respect the choices of others. Beyond music, this activity will be of great learning to grow in the capacity for waiting and empathy.
- “Everyone listens to it” will surely be the answer if we pretend that they do not listen to certain songs. And if we want them to never listen to them, we will get frustrated and we will also generate stressful situations for them. A little girl got very sick when a song appeared on a birthday that her mother wouldn’t let her hear, she covered her ears, went to the bathroom, even started crying. Let’s try to find a balance, convey clearly what we believe is not good for them, and be realistic in our expectations.
- Take advantage of childhood and adolescence to learn more about music. We can offer singing classes, or play an instrument, with videos, teachers, whatever is within our reach. The goal is not for them to become professionals, this first-person contact is in itself a great learning. They can also produce their own content, and sharpen their critical ears when it comes to being on the consumer side.
Many times, the current is so strong that we feel that it is taking us at full speed, but let us remember that we are always in charge of the helm in the ship of the education of our children and music also accompanies us on this journey.
* Magdalena Clariá has a degree in Psychology and Mercedes Gontán, lawyer, mediator and Family Counselor. Together they make sowing notes