6 Things that Make a Good Children's Song

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Follow this rule: If you think it’s bad, it probably is…

Photo by  Philippe Put

 

Most parents of pre-school children would agree there is surprisingly little information or guidance on the internet as to what constitutes a quality children's song. Perhaps most important for parents, is which music should one be playing to small children and why.

A quick search on the internet would reveal a large number of children music creators, and a quick listen would reveal several common denominators. For starters, a lot of content are new renditions and tweaks of already existing, well known children's songs. One will also notice the lyrics and music tend to be extremely simple, and the simple explanation is they are "for children" - but is that really what children need or want? Or is it rather a reflection of what we believe they can understand?

For good or worse, young children are no sophisticated judges of musical craftsmanship, although to some parents it is apparent that there are some songs their young ones favor over others (hint: "let it gooooo"...).Not unlike the rest of us, children succumb to catchy "hooks". A great deal of musicians would agree that a good hook is an element of a good song, and one that would capture a greater audience. From a parent's perspective, catchy songs would be a complete win-win (children- parents) if the songs went beyond entertainment and actually contributed to their children development.

That music is beneficial to your child remains a fact. According to Diane Bales, Associate Professor at University of Georgia, listening to any kind of music helps build music-related pathways in the brain, plus music can have positive effects on children's moods that may make learning easier(1). But, what music should they listen too? Here is a summarized list of tips from reliable sources:

  1. Expose your child to many different musical selections of various styles (1), and remember to actively listen to music. While having music playing in the background is extremely helpful, it is also important for your child to attend to and interact with music regularly (2).
  2. Use upbeat popular music to motivate learning, especially songs with lyrics that encourage positive thinking (4).
  3. When picking songs, remember that to get the full benefits of music, children need to sing, clap and dance along with the tunes. Singing and moving to music tells the brain to make meaning of it, a cognitive process called audiation (5).
  4. Favor the complexity and tonal quality of classical music. Babies as young as 3 months can pick out the structure of classical music and even recognize classical music selections they have heard before. Researchers think the complexity of classical music is what primes the brain to solve spatial problems more quickly. (1)
  5. Kids’ music that is geared toward children is not necessarily very healthy music for children to be listening to. Follow this rule: If you think it’s bad, it probably is. (5)
  6. "Lastly, remember that music is one of life’s most meaningful experiences. It is a uniquely human experience, and as such it should never be forced on a child. Instead, make music a part of everyday life that improves everything we do. If you instill this value in your child at a young age, they will be grateful when they’re older as they continue to explore a relationship with music."(2)

Kids' Candor's library of original bilingual songs addresses important needs in this space by 1) challenging children's intellect with its educative content and bilingualism and 2) providing quality music that is both diverse and catchy for both kids and grown-ups. And there is a plus: according to James Adler (3), an active composer and performer of children music in New York City, "Most Kid's Candor's songs reflect the musical nuance quality also found in classical compositions".

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(1) Bales, D. (1998). Building Baby's Brain: The Role of Music. Athens, GA: University of Georgia, College of Family and Consumer Sciences.

(2) Creating a Musical Home Environment by Dr. Robert A. Cutietta,Dean of the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music.

(3) James Adler, classically trained children music composer and performer. Lives in New York City and is the creator of The Munchkin Music Club. http://themunchkinmusicclub.com/.

(4) Boost Memory and Learning with Music by Cheri Lucas, Education.com

(5) What Music Should My Child Listen To? By Laura Lewis Brown, PB

 


Jorge Gallego
Jorge Gallego

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