Sunday, 21 December 2014
Guide for Parents Managing their Children's Music Tastes
My kids have finally taken possession of their own music tastes. It's been dormant for a long time and it has just exploded with a vengeance in my house. It has manifested itself in the form of playing the latest tracks on Billboards Hit 100 singles, on MY Spotify account, at full volume. Sitting in the lounge room between two bedrooms at opposite ends of the house, you get similar sounding tunes clashing against each other in stereo, and it leaves very little space for me to play what I want to listen to. When I drive the kids to school I routinely get told to play other music more suited to their taste. It appears to be a rejection of and a reaction against any music that I stand for.
This happens in every household where there are children and parents. At some point or other, kids try to rationalise their tastes and define themselves in some way independent of their parents. You probably did it yourself. I know I did, and it drove my parents nuts.
So if you are being driven nuts by your kids and their music, how do you manage it? Here are a few ideas to manage this phenomenon.
1. Don't critique their music taste.
OK, so I don't necessarily like what the kids are playing music you don't like. Big deal. When our parents were loving the Beatles and the Easybeats, our grandparents thought they were the sole reason for the decline of civilisation.
It's at this point that the generation gap can either be contained or exacerbated. Your kids are going to see you as old and outdated and "uncool" by default, so don't give them any ammunition. My childhood listening experiences were often punctuated by my father poking his head in my room and asking "What's this shit, son?" At that point I knew I was onto a good thing. But on the other side, you are making yourself and your ideas on music instantly redundant should you try.
2. You don't have to like it.
In fact, liking some of their music is to place the kiss of death on it for the kids. And is there anything more ridiculous than a 40 year old bopping along with Nicki Minaj?
3. Engage with your kids and their music.
By now, your kids are not looking for your approval with what they're listening to. But they will still need guidance. Engage with kids and find out what they know about the music they like. Find out why they like it and you'll probably learn something about them in the process.
In my view a lot of modern music, specifically Hip-Hop, still presents a negative stereotype towards women and presents violence as normal and acceptable. If you're child is listening to Eminem or NWA or their ilk, it needs to be a discussion point to talk about these issues. Can they tell the difference between art as fiction and reality? It's one thing for people to talk about in their songs, but is it ok to copy those ideas in the real world? There's also plenty of great hip hop that doesn't trade in these ideas, so can you find some?
Adverse criticism will just drive certain listening habits underground. It's probably better to arm kids with knowledge on issues within lyrics as opposed to banning an artist outright.
4. Good Music is ageless and timeless.
There is a reason why Jimi Hendrix's face is still printed on T-shirts nearly 45 years after his death. There's a reason why Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" has just returned towards the top of the US album charts after 41 years. Good music will outlive us all and will always find fresh ears.
I reckon my kids are starting their musical exploration. They're looking for immediate gratification now, and will find the stuff that will stay with them for years to come as they get further into it. They're looking for their Beatles or Pearl Jam - a cultural signifier that will identify them and their generation that will stay with them forever. They haven't found it yet, but they will in time. Within time we will meet in the middle musically, as I have with my father. We don't like the exact same things, but I have found parts of his music that work for me.
5. This is a passing phase.
The Top 40 singles charts are a transient beast. More so now than ever before. Already, I see kids discarding hit singles of 18 months ago as "old" and "unworthy". And let's face it. There's a lot of stuff that my mates and I bought on 7-inch vinyl and cd-single back in the day that we would be embarrassed about now. In 10 years time my kids will be embarrassed to think that they even listened to "The Gummy Bear Song", let alone danced their little backsides off to it.
Out of what they listen to now, the good music will stick, the crap will be consigned to the skip bin of history soon enough.
Have we hit the nail on the head? What other suggestions do you have? Let us know in the comments.