Teaching Children to Seek and Find Power in Music
By Whitney Permann of Mercy River
As a mom, the “A” word scares me.
You know the one….AGENCY. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could always control our children’s choices? If we could forever choose what they watch, listen to, eat, and wear? (My 9 year old son currently refuses to wear any clothing that does not have “BYU” on it somewhere. Why, Son, why?? Why will you not wear the adorable wardrobe I’ve provided you?) To my dismay, my kids are quite adept at making choices on their own. All I can do is prepare them to make good ones (and then…pray).
Lately, I’ve been teaching my kids to use the “A” word wisely when it comes to music.
Someday my son will have his own mp3 player (shudder) and he will be choosing what music he puts in his head (shudder, shudder!). Until that day, I’ve got to prepare him. But…how?
As parents, we’re pretty good at pointing out the “bad.” But instead of just nagging over and over about the “naughty” music and pointing our fingers and saying “no no no” and “don’t don’t don’t,” what if we did the opposite? Let’s not forget to show them all the GOOD music in the world. Let’s expose them to what IS appropriate, wonderful, and uplifting. Why? First, so they can develop a love and a taste for it. And second, so they can learn to judge between good and bad music for themselves.
To paraphrase the 13th Article of Faith,
“If there is [any music that is] virtuous, lovely, of good report, or praiseworthy we SEEK after these things [as wise parents who are scared of the ‘A’ word.]”
As you SEEK to expose great music to your children,
they will FIND the power it brings. Here’s what I’ve tried to do in my own family.
Find: The power of family bonding.
As a family, we love musicals. We love to attend them when we can, and my husband and I love to rent old musicals for our kids. Some of their favorites are Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat, and (most of all) Newsies. Singing the songs in the car and watching or attending “our shows” is fun to do together. Musicals offer a wealth of quality, clean, entertaining music for the whole fam.
Seek: Music Lessons
Find: The power of self-esteem, increased intelligence, creativity, and expression.
Research shows that children who sing or play an instrument do better in school–especially in math and languages. Music instruction also teaches discipline, relieves stress, and helps children learn to appreciate and love music on a personal level. Lots of incredible statistics here: http://www.raisesmartkid.com/all-ages/1-articles/16-the-effect-of-music-on-childrens-intelligence
Seek: SINGING Hymns!
Find: The power of spiritual development.
My children LOVE to reverently sing the hymns during Sacrament meeting. (OK– I bribe them with candy.) However you can, encourage your readers to follow along and sing the hymns, instead of coloring or zoning out. Otherwise, they are missing out on powerful personal opportunities for the spirit to testify to them. Much of my own spiritual development has been facilitated through hymns and primary songs. MAKE THEM SING IN SACRAMENT MEETING! I give you permission to use candy if necessary.
Seek: Educational Music
Find: The power of values.
There are some FANTASTIC musical resources available to teach kids values. My absolute favorite is Brite Music (www.britemusic.com). I love the 3 different “Safety Kid” programs–there’s one about personal safety (staying away from strangers), one about saying no to drugs, and one (my favorite) about pornography. They are done tastefully and fun and the songs are catchy and powerful. (It’s fun to overhear your 7 year old singing “It’s alright for me to walk away from something I don’t want to seeeeeee…” as he unloads the dishwasher.) I love ALL the Brite Music stuff. Find value-promoting music YOUR kids would love and arm them with these messages. (PS, music like this makes a great gift from Grandma, should she need any suggestions!)
Seek: Sing-Songy Songs
Find: The power to memorize.
From music, my kids have memorized the articles of faith, the names and order of the apostles, and a few scriptures. I’ve also made up little ditties to help them memorize our address, phone number, and how to spell their names. Your kids can memorize ANYTHING if it is put to music. And as they get older they can use this skill for tests in school.
Good, beautiful, uplifting music is a powerful weapon in your Mom-Artillery.
It will bring the spirit into your home, calm unruly kids, teach values, foster intelligence/self-esteem/creativity, increase family identity and bonding, testify of Christ, and sharpen memorization skills.
So. look that “A” word sqin the eyes,
roll up your sleeves, throw your head back and have a good maniacal laugh. Because with good music on your side, Mom…you’ve got true POWER.