Music was my first love.
When I was two or three, some of my vaguest, cloudy memories of that age involve a tiny, rectangular, cream cassette player that I used to carry around with me on my shoulder with my ear pressed to the speaker.
I had only one tape : There was an Old Lady, Who Swallowed a Fly. You probably know the one: a nonsensical story of an old woman who swallows increasingly large animals, each to catch the previously swallowed animal – but who dies at the end. Presumably from indigestion.
They don’t write kids songs like that anymore.
One day, the batteries ran low and the tape began to turn at half speed until eventually grinding sadly to a halt. Tears and tantrums ensued – until Dad leapt to the rescue by finding a 12 volt socket on the back. There was hope: We had a matching male end in the drawer, but we didn’t know what it was for. It certainly looked like it fit. Perhaps it was for my beloved cassette player…
Dad assured me that he’d get it working…gingerly connecting the power supply to the dainty cassette player and promptly blowing the thing to smithereens.
I still have nightmares.
So, I knew that I loved music. Or nursery rhymes. It wasn’t clear.
I think, I loved listening to music. I begged and begged that I have another cassette player – and my parents eventually acquiesced.
This time, a larger, brown (why!) Fischer Price that ran on four C-Cell batteries was clearly the winning pick and I found my second tape hidden in a dusty drawer : the hits of Neil Diamond…
Approximately a thousand C batteries later and learning why a ‘bic’ biro is the perfect friend of the humble cassette tape, I was definitely hooked.
Those early days, listening to music, are some of the most important in a young child’s development. It turns out that kids exposed to music at a very young age have a far better chance of developing perfect pitch, and more importantly developing a love for music.
For those that don’t love music as passionately as I do, I invite you to come into a world where there is a whole language reserved for emotions. Sure, we can write poetry…sonnets, verses, articles – but nothing quite captures elation, fear, happiness or heartbreak like a good song does.
So – how can we expose our children to this wonderful world? Simple – give them music, and lots of it.
Put music on in the background while you do chores around them. Have a dance as a family. Create a more formal setting where you announce that ‘it’s time to listen to an album’ or take them to a kinder music programme near you.
Do this from the earliest possible opportunities. It’s a great way for kids to move around, express themselves and have fun.
The more serious benefits of doing these activities include improvements in puzzle solving type tasks (thought to be the way the brain deciphers and breaks down the music) which then translates to other areas such as cognitive reasoning, problem solving and conceptual tasks.
Music is one of only only a couple of activities that use the entire brain. Aural, Visual, Cognitive, Reasonsing, Fine and Gross Motor Skill – it’s all there! It really is a miracle and the research is available for everyone to read.
My parents, by gifting me that first cassette player, inadvertently awoke my young brain to a world of sound. Of colour. Of hopes and dreams; reflection and sometimes prayer. It has saved my life on numerous occasions – and it has been my first love. To quote a fabulous song, by John Miles:
“Music was my first love…and it will be my last”