What are your opinions on the effect of music on children and young people?
Music inspires creativity and free expression. It's easy to blame music or video games for bad behavior. In the early twentieth century, people were calling for the banning of books that supposedly turned people into communists or liberals. This culminated in the Nazi book burnings. The latest styles of music, media and video games receive the same sort of attention; but because they weren't around for the Nazis to burn, it's an acceptable opinion for people to want them censored.
A lot of it has to do with dislike. Older people in general dislike things enjoyed by younger people, and vice versa. This influences whether of not they call for a ban.
Another factor is the need to moralize. I have written about the psychology of moralizers, but it essentially boils down to the theory that people claim things are immoral because it can bolster their reputation in the eyes of others. They are seen as principled and trustworthy, which brings increased trade and friendship opportunities. This is why people make their criticisms public, and why they usually make criticisms that are politically correct, or acceptable among their peer group.
There are psychology experiments showing the emotional and intuitive nature of our moral judgments, and our disposition for justifying any moral judgment we make, no matter how much evidence there is to the contrary. We are disposed to moralize, and this likely evolved as part of our psychology because those who moralized received the aforementioned benefits.
My kids (ages 6 and 10) are just starting to get into music They each got an MP3 player for Christmas and my wife and I pre-loaded them with a "mix" of some of our favorite stuff to get them started. I'm a hard rock/metal fan and my wife likes country, classic rock, oldies, etc. so there was a good assortment of styles. We were careful not to select any songs with bad/foul language or subject matter (so no GWAR songs from me... darn it. Haha.).
They've been having a lot of fun with their "playlists" and my wife and I get a kick out of seeing them "rockin' out" to the songs they particularly like. They've come to me asking if I have any more songs by certain artists that I can add to the player for them.
At the moment their favorite artist is Weird Al Yankovic. I put a few tracks from his Greatest Hits on their players and they LOVE him...which drives my wife crazy. I'm so proud.
I read about a study once that checked out what kids did before exams. They found out that the kids who listened to classical music before the tests scored much higher than those who did not. I think that's a vote for kids listening to music.
The brain development benefits of studying an instrument are well-documented, and I think that listening to a variety of music helps children develop their own tastes and music appreciation. I would be wary of violent or inappropriate lyrics, but would otherwise encourage them to explore. I have also read articles about the benefits of classical music in various settings, but from the perspective of music therapy, an individual's own preferences might be the most powerful. My first-grade daughter, for example, loves Michael Jackson---so putting on one of his music videos sometimes helps set a positive mood with her morning routine on school days!
Music is influential to people of all ages. Music is incorporated in so many daily activities and events because of the feelings and messages that it can deliver. For example, many people choose their church based on the style of music. There are churches that use the old "tried and true" hymnals that are peaceful and humbling. Gospel music is uplifting and inspirational and brings a sense of hope to any situation.
Music is used to celebrate, mourn, learn, inspire, dance, tell stories, etc...That being said, music has to effect young people who are vulnerable and in a state of discovering who they are as individuals. It serves as a means of expression and often a display of rebellion, or proving that they are their own person.
For all of time, there has been music that wasn't approved of by the older generations but was popular with the youth. From Elvis to Hendrix and rock n' roll to rap teens have been drawn to the forbidden, the crossing the line, style of music of their generation.
Music is an outlet, usually used positively, to express feelings. A child who is otherwise healthy, socially and mentally, is not going to turn into a monster because of the genre of music they choose. However, for those who are suffering emotionally and hurting or angry, music can feed those already negative thoughts and actions. I have often said that if your child is locked in their bedroom, getting high, and listening to a record backwards there is probably an issue much bigger than the music he/she is listening to. And, that issue was brought on by something that happened long before the music.
As a mother of boys, 16 & 12, and a daughter, 4, I often cringe at the music the boys are listening to especially if their younger sister is in hearing range. Of course, I express my concerns; I talk to them about offensive lyrics and degrading lines. This is my job as a parent. I am responsible for molding their values and behaviors. I have to believe that all of the morals and rules and guidelines that I have instilled in them, over a lifetime, have more influence than a song.
Let's face it, when most of us look back on our teenage years and the bands and performers that we idolized it almost seems silly. I still love 80's rock and big hair bands but the big hair and makeup kind of make me chuckle now.
Yes, music is influential and has an effect on young people. More often than not, that effect is a positive one that promotes individuality.
I always had music playing in the house. Frank Sinatra, and opera too.
My extended family was very musical and my youngest took to the piano at age four.
She liked to make up her own songs but my brother and cousin got her very interested.
I used to buy all the sound tracks from the latest Broad Way show and by age six she knew every song. And I think she listened to them so much it was easy for her to play by ear.
It seemed to make her think why some one could sing and writ such wonderful music and then she would just listen to the same music over and over until she could sing it by heart. After a while though I was tired of The Sound Of Music.
But she'd sing from the top of her lungs. Making us all laugh. To this day she still loves the musicals. And opera too.
When she is working on a new piece of music, if she gets frustrated with it he breaks out into a rendition of Heart and Soul.
Music helps the growing brain of children. I think they need to be exposed to it from a very early age. It is a universal language.
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