The soundtrack to my childhood is an eclectic mix of classic rock CDs played on repeat in my dad's car, silly sing-along songs my mom passed down from her own childhood and the tunes I spent hours practicing on my keyboard.
Now that I'm a parent, I hope to give my children the same experience. But the reasons why I want to fill our home with music are even deeper than I anticipated—which occurred to me when I first saw my baby son clap along to a beat.
It was in this precious moment that it really clicked with me that music is about more than having fun or learning a skill or sparking creativity or strengthening emotional intelligence. Rather, the best thing about music is that it combines all of those wonderful benefits.
Even from our earliest Music Together classes when my child was still a baby, there was a special opportunity to follow his lead. Yes, I could offer instruments and encouragement. But the children were the ones who could light up the room with enthusiasm as they danced to their own beat or sang beautifully off-key.
As parents, we knew we weren't just watching basic choreography or listening to silly songs; we were watching their self-expression flourish, confidence strengthen and coordination develop—and we were doing the same right along with them. By being active participants in each class rather than sideline observers, we could reinforce what our babies were learning, and take something personal from the experience, too.
In time, the songs we learned in these weekly sessions became part of our family language. I will forever cherish memories of my oldest child singing "May All Children" to his younger sister or launching "All Around the Kitchen" when I was preparing dinner. Now that my oldest has two younger siblings in the classes, he shows such pride in helping them learn the songs. From the ABCs to songs that teach about differences, I also love that music about other cultures shines a light and drives my children's natural curiosity about the world around them.
With every year that passes, I'm seeing the early skills rooted in our musical play give way to impressive rhyming instincts, coordination and patience for my preschooler. Because the classes so easily capture children's attention, he remains eager to focus on lessons about singing in key, moving in sync and more—which wasn't always true when it came to his ability to concentrate on other subjects. (As any parent of toddlers will understand!)
But, perhaps, the most beautiful gift of music is that it doesn't demand perfection—even from adults. From a child's point of view, there are few areas where adults are still "works in progress." We know how to tie our shoes, write our names and throw a ball. With music, though? Joy is found within the practice.
My husband, in particular, is a skilled guitar player. In order to debut a new song to us, however, he first practices and practices and practices—often with his little helper by his side. During these "jam sessions," my son is learning that it's completely fine and natural not to have immediate success.
I, on the other hand, am an amateur at best when it comes to anything musical. Yet, my children still see me having fun while belting a song entirely off-key or pecking at the keyboard I never really mastered. By witnessing this, our little sponges feel free to let their guards down when we are singing made-up, personalized songs, banging on drums with reckless abandon or doing any of the other tasks in life that may not come easily on the first try. By instilling this appreciation for music in their childhoods, I hope that they will continue to consider it a welcoming, fun pastime throughout their lives—whether they are naturally skilled like their dad or, ahem, not so skilled like me.
In this way, music is a common ground between the generations of our family that offers each of us the opportunity to come as we are and be appreciated for the unique skills we offer across the whole spectrum. So, yes, the sounds of songs and laughter fill our house. But more importantly, love, creativity, acceptance, togetherness and joy do, too.
This article was sponsored by Music Together. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.