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Words and Muse

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A Little Bit of Linda Book's Philosophy about Kids' Music  

It would be easier to let you know what I write and sing about, of course, if you were sitting in the audience of a show of mine. If you could be there, here's what you'd find.

My music supports my basic philosophy: I think that children are growing up too fast, and my songs let them dwell in the world where children are most comfortable and let them be kids for a bit longer.

The other side of it, as I am told by many of you, is that my songs truly remind adults of what it was to be a child, to take them back to their own childhood and experience it again. That re-experiencing seems to warm the heart and, for a little while, it quiets the noisy insistence of modern life. 

A Little History

I grew up in a household where music was ever-present. We always had a piano that my mother played. I began to play around on the piano when I was about 8.

My mother just let me pick out songs by ear and in a while I was playing with both right and left hands, with very questionable technique, I am sure.

We sang a lot. We sang when my mother played piano. We sang at Christmas time when the whole family was around. We sang in the car on road trips.

I don't remember anyone not singing for fear of not sounding good, which brings me to a very important point.

Don't Say, "But I Can't Sing"

Repeatedly I hear parents and teachers say that they never sing because someone told them early on that they could not sing. I always feel very disheartened about those early experiences. Everyone should sing, regardless of voice.

We have become so accustomed to being passive with regard to music--to just listening to it, to watching music videos, to listening to the "experts" sing--that we have lost the fundamental joy of joining our own voice with others in song. It is one of the community experiences that we are in danger of losing.

About Music for Babies

Today adults seem eager to enroll children as young as 18 months (children that I refer to as BABIES) in music CLASSES. In my opinion, it is like trying to teach a dog to pronounce vowels. It's frustrating for the teacher, and the dog doesn't like it that much either.

Children of 18 months learn from emulating what happens in the most important environment in their lives (and the primary one that they really pay attention to)--the home.

If you like music, your child will like music. You are the love object. You are the one who matters most deeply to your baby.

Sing lullabies when you rock your child to sleep in the rocking chair. Have a waking up song. Have riding in the car cassettes. Sing along. Be playful.

A True Story from My Experience

There was a family with three children who regularly attended all my concerts near their home. They would drive as much as an hour to a show, and I came to know them from their smiling faces in the crowd -- the older ones singing along, the littlest guy, about six month's propped on mom's lap, clapping or swaying.

When the youngest was 22 months old, I had a call from the mother. I was surprised to hear from her.

She said, "Linda, I am so frustrated. Timothy loves your songs. He is just starting to talk, and he sings them in the car, or at home with me when we are there. He seems to love all music."

I said, "That's great."

She went on. "Yes, well I decided to enroll him in a music class twice a week. Well, we go there, and he never pays attention. He gets kind of cross or 'hyper' and doesn't pay attention at all."

I replied very slowly. "Kathy, he's a BABY. He doesn't need music classes to love music. He has got his entire life to learn music in a formal setting. What he needs to learn now is what it means to be a part of your family, and the essential ingredient of music for him now is that his family loves music and sings and has fun."

We are tending to rely on all sorts of other people to be the early socializing agents for our children, but it doesn't work. Why should a toddler try to please another adult, when developmentally he or she is geared to pleasing a parent. It is the parent who is the loved one, not the music teacher.

She said that she would pull him out of the music class, but also said that he loved to do somersaults on the floor, so maybe she would use the money to enroll him in tumbling.

My heart was so heavy that it felt like lead.

In Conclusion

So, here is some advice to you, from me, a purveyor of music for your children: Buy music that both of you like, so you listen to it together, and sing the songs together.

I don't really believe in songs for adults as being separate from songs for children. Good music is good music. Memorable lyrics are memorable lyrics.

Songs that touch the heart, that are childlike without being childish, lift the human spirit.

Listen deeply, sing heartily, laugh boldly, cry tenderly--it's what makes us human!


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