Shaping Your Child’s Music Tastes, from ‘Dwight Yogo’ to the Wiggles

elijah with guitarFathers shouldn’t expect their sons to rock out to the same music they grew up on.

Elijah and Ben wouldn’t know Elvis Costello from Elvis Presley, and when I tried to get Elijah interested in my favorite country crooner he began calling him “Dwight Yogo.” My struggles sound like the makings of a pretty lousy honkytonk song.

Yet I still remember hearing my best friend describe the music he listens to in his car now that he’s a parent.

“Kid’s music … The Wiggles … that sort of thing. You know, it’s not that bad,” my friend assured me.

Not that bad? It sounds awful. Parents give up plenty when they start a family. Spare time. R-rated movies before 9 p.m. Spontaneous couplings. Did I have to give up music in my car, too?

So far the Wiggles have yet to make their Kia Rondo debut. Maybe it’s because our boys are too busy chatting among themselves to complain about our selections. Or, perhaps on a certain level they’re enjoying the eclectic blend of Lyle Lovett, Graham Parker and retro goodness from my favorite new singer, Seth Swirsky.

I still have to make sure my musical selections don’t reflect rock’s seedier side. I doubt my boys can process the intricacies of the Kinks’ gender-bending “Lola,” but the occasional “F-bomb” in a song makes me lunge for the volume button.

I take solace from a brief, combustible relationship I had years ago with a single mother. Her children didn’t go for the current pop singers. They were both under 12, but they preferred Bob Dylan to Top 40 fare.

It can be done.

I’m sure some children’s musicians are just as talented as their poppy peers, and The Wiggles may have as many adult fans as wee ones. Part of me doesn’t want to find out.


  1. says

    I’m with you. My boy is only a year but we’ve yet to buy any ‘childrens’ music. In the car to daycare and running around on weekends it is whatever is my usual mix from my iPod: Lyle Lovett, Pearl Jam, Counting Crows, etc. Even Tool. I just don’t play them as loud as when I’m alone.

    I can tell when he likes one more than others, usually simpler beats and melodies, but it’s still rock n’ roll (and I like it).

    At this time I don’t see Barney, Raffi or any other kiddy standard making the mix in the Hybrid.

    And I bet they’d like Lola. Great song, great beat. It will be years before they can decipher the story.

    • Beth Trapani says

      For what it’s worth, a lot of classic children’s songs (Do you Know the Muffin Man, Ring Around the Rosey, The Grand Old Duke of York, etc. etc.)are supposedly huge literacy builders because they are filled with simple rhymes, rhythms, etc. I do a mix of music — kid’s stuff like that as well as music I like. There is no question my kids have preferences. We also do kids books on tapes, which they love. Educators will tell you that the ability to know, memorize, recognize, etc. simple rhyming songs goes a long way toward helping kids to read.

  2. admin321 says

    Good points, all.

    I don’t mind singing classical kiddie songs with the boys or having their toys play them as well. Right now, Eli gets a lot of singing at his pre-preschool, and I’m giddy that he’s taking it on.

    And we could be starting a new generation of Tool fans!

  3. says

    My kid was humming Mozart’s A Little Night Music at the age of 5 and loved An American in Paris. No, she was not a musical genius. That’s just the music that was on in the house when she was young. Kid music (especially the classic folk tunes) are important for rhyming, for fitting in while at pre-school and for cultural literacy. But, dang, your preferences are important, too. Rock on!

    • admin321 says

      Love it, Anne! Sadly, growing up I heard both the great (Sinatra) and the downright weird (the soundtrack to the harrowing prison film “Midnight Express.”

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