Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I have been thinking about Henry and music a lot lately.

Saturday night we went to a neighborhood walk about, which included a stop in a baby learning studio where they were hosting a mini kids music lesson. I stood in the back with Henry in my arms as he watched wide eyed (and sleepy; past bedtime) the older babies & kids play the tambourine; soft and hard, soft and hard.

You guys, I started tearing up. The tambourine is such a staple of childhood (or was in my own, anyways). The thought that I will soon get to share this with him (soon! Everything is happening so soon!), and everything else I treasured as a child; that he is my child, it just sort of hit me at that moment.

We are big music people, and we can't wait to share all of our favorite music with him as he grows. (See my friend Bruce's successful strategy in sharing his favorite music with his nephew here.)

But what about when they are so little? I am curious about your experience with music and the little ones. So far Henry went through a phase where he really liked being sung Mary Had a Little Lamb (boring!), then he ditched that and loved Do Re Mi. But even that only gets a little smile these days. He doesn't care for most of my rock renditions (After Hours is of no interest to him, but he tolerates I Will for his lullaby.)

I wonder; do babies strongly react to baby specific music? Should I be hitting up the record store? If I play something specifically recorded for him in the car, is he more likely to be happy and entertained than if I just put on the oldies station?

And if so, please. What doesn't suck?


  1. oooh. i hope people comment on this one as i'd love to hear more tips too for music and little ones. my hubby and i are both music lovers but not very musical ourselves. i want music to be a bigger part of ramona's childhood than it was in mine. thanks for a great post!

  2. Are the Rock a Bye Baby albums too babyish? I think they're really fun...might be a good way to introduce some classics in more soothing tones if that's what he's into. It's awesome that you're thinking about this!

  3. I say go with whatever seems to get a positive reaction from him. I know I was sung lots of baby songs when I was tiny (I still know them all), but I remember also listening to the music my parents loved when I was a bit older. Well, I became aware of it when I was older, at least; I'm sure they played it while I was still very small, too. It's probably why I love music so much. I think that as long as you're exposing him to it and getting a positive reaction, anything goes.

  4. @kristy oh we wont STOP listening to regular music. :) but so far we are not getting much of a reaction. so that is what i wonder, if we introduce "baby" music will he be more responsive?

    @EV i dont know if it is i have not heard it???

  5. i have very, very strong opinions on this. my mother played me what she liked, and we all know i turned out to be a freak of nature. (which can be viewed as great or annoying, depending on your side of the fence).

    i say play him dylan and woody guthrie. dylan sings "man gave name to all the animals" and the kids i was a nanny for in college LOVED IT. woody guthrie has songs that are easy for little kids to catch on to, especially "do re mi". sometimes he makes funny noises, too, that can be fun for smaller kids and easier to digest than raffi for adults. (email me. i will give you suggestions).

    woody's "do re mi": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=46mO7jx3JEw

  6. Oh my goodness, you will love it! We got our friends who just had a newborn the Journey album. It cracks me up.
    (PS just updated my profile so that it will show Kelsey and not the EV BClub name :) )

  7. Well of course you won't stop. :)

    Are you singing to him or just playing the music? I don't know if it makes a difference, but maybe it's the complexity of the music that's too much? Too many instruments at once? "Baby" music tends to be pretty simplified. The Woody song Naurnie posted is just guitar + voice, so maybe songs like that would get a better reaction from him.

  8. YES! I second Rockabye Baby albums. I've bought several to give as gifts at baby showers. Here's a link to the music shop, Jamie: http://www.rockabyebabymusic.com/ecom2/index.php/music

    My personal favorites: The Cure, Pixies, and Smashing Pumpkins.

    Also, my friend Colin is the drummer in Dan Zanes & Friends. They're awesome! Check 'em out here: http://www.danzanes.com/

  9. what kind of reaction are you hoping for? I'm a terrible singer. at least, I can never remember song lyrics on cue. I end up making them up while singing to Wolf and making facial expressions to go along with them. seems like he tunes in to songs that tell a story or something that builds up and he can really get into.

    if it was tambourine that attracted H's attention, maybe try something like Devotchka or Beirut or Devendra - something with a lot of worldly instruments or sounds.

    p.s. I'm dying to see a video of H.

  10. http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/do-fun-stuff-vol-1/id389206136

    that's is an awesome album full of music for childs made for listen and enjoy the adults too... and the best: it's made as a charity for raising money for a sickness.. there you have more information!

  11. Rockabye Baby albums saved my life! My six month old son does not like the car and we heard that for whatever reason babies respond to the high-pitched glockenspiel tones in lullabies. So we bought Rockabye Baby Kanye West and it was like a miracle occurred! He's still cranky when he's cranky but the Kanye (and we've added Smashing Pumpkins and U2 as well) usually keeps him calm and happy. They also help speed up the descent into naptime when we're at home.

  12. My baby started reacting to music around 10-11 months of age. I've been dance-partying him to sleep since he was 11 weeks old with everyday music of mine, Stereolab, The Smiths, Belle and Sebastian, etc. At 15 months, he now expresses strong preferences and dances a lot. He really likes this album my sister burned for me called Philly Joe Giraffe; it's a kid's album about drumming which Dax loves to do. It's not annoying in my opinion, but I don't get annoyed easily. He definitely prefers it to my music but he also likes my music and Pandora stations. Woody Guthrie's children's album bores him.

  13. Ok, I usually am no help on these posts, but this topic just randomly came up among my friends Saturday night. Their daughter, Naomi, is about 17-months-old, and she loves her dad's ginormous, unbelievably impressive record collection. But, the one voice that never fails to make her happy and soothes her when she's being particularly fussy is James Brown. She LOVES him so much, they call him the baby whisperer.

  14. I wrote a blog post on this topic recently : http://www.anneemall.net/blog/2011/05/what-moon-songs-do-you-sing-your-babies/

  15. Oh! I'm still a huge fan of the Sesame Street album In Harmony from my own childhood. Seriously catchy fun songs by the likes of James Taylor and the Doobie Brothers and Bette Midler. I don't even have a baby and I listen to it from time to time. Hehe.

  16. great post! music has been a huge part of cheech's life since we got home from the hospital. it was one of the few things that was guaranteed to soothe her during those first few months when everything was bananas. i'm not kidding, there was music playing in our house from 7am straight through 11 pm up until about month 4. joe and i got pretty sick of our music collection. this has been our experience as far as figuring out what she's attracted to:

    1. voices. she's very specific about the type of singing voice she likes. it must be male, and it must be either drone-y (iron and wine, nick drake) or unique (james brown, bruce springsteen).

    2. the music must be loud for her to notice it. i'm talking, LOUD. i'm sure our neighbors hate us. she LOVES live music. try to find local festivals in your area that have jazz or blue grass bands.

    3. i'm not sure if this is the route you want to take, but she's a huge fan of hip hop and dance music. she could probably dance in our arms all day long if we had the time/energy. i've noticed that hip hop and dance music tend to get a *happy* reaction from her. it's not what we prefer to listen to, but i like that she's showing signs of her own preferences.

    4. as far as me singing to her, she only likes songs that are coupled with hand motions (itsy bitsy spider, wheels on the bus).

    5. i'm a huge fan of the rockabye collection too. i don't find that it really causes her to have an interest in music so much, but for some reason, they create a very calm and relaxed mood for her. the cure one is EXCELLENT for putting her to bed. it usually puts me to bed too.

    so basically, you just need to experiment and see what H gravitates towards. good luck!

  17. http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/do-fun-stuff-vol-1/id389206136

    this is a great band who make music for kids, but it's also fun for adults too! i found them through here: http://pacingthepanicroom.blogspot.com/

    AND the money goes towards a great cause! what more could you want? :)

  18. Music has always been a huge part of my life and I SO want my baby son to feel the same! The Rockabye Baby songs are awesome, and you can create a Pandora playlist based on them as well (if you don't feel like purchasing). I have vivid memories of playing in my room, doing homework, yakking on the phone, while listening to every jazz album ever created coming from my dad's office. He also exposed me to a lot of classical music growing up and I swear he's the reason I love ALL types of tunes. I'll break it down to Tu Pac one morning, Black Keys the next and Pat Benatar the day after that.

    My little one HATES the car so I've spent a lot of time fumbling through stations to keep him from screaming. Funnily enough, he too seems to gravitate most towards techno. I tell myself it's because of the rythmic beats, but it doesn't keep me from picturing him in a sweat band at the Jersey Shore!

  19. One option would be to try a couple of different stations on Pandora. We listen to the pre-set toddler radio and a rockabye baby one I created. Its a great way to not only see what songs your baby likes but to learn some too. And the best thing is its free.

  20. The book/CD "All Together Singing in the Kitchen: Creative Ways to Make and Listen to Music as a Family" looks interesting.

  21. so this morning in the car (car rides have gotten better, but morning ones when he is alone in the back seat are never his favorite, so we are far from perfect) he started complaining at the start of the ride. which surely meant he would be in tears before the end.

    i desperately looked to see if pandora was installed on my phone, yes! (i never use it) and put on rockabye baby.

    within the first few notes his complaining stopped.

    it started up again before the end of the trip, but i am almost positive it helped us avoid full on cry time! yay! i have NEVER seen him react to recorded music like that. (sigh.)