Tune in to Your Kids’ Taste in Music

There has long been the cultural stereotype that children reject their parent’s taste in music. I certainly did.? I eschewed my parent’s symphonic classical music and operas for The Grateful Dead, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Dylan, The Stones, The Who, The Doors, The Beatles. Classic rock – there wasn’t anything better.

Today, however, I’m not sure this stereotype rings as true anymore. My two daughters, both in their 20s, were visiting home recently, and I was struck by their diverse tastes in music. They like – and regularly listen to – “my” classic rock, in addition to today’s genres: rap, hip hop, pop, not to mention reggae, alternative, indie and even folk music.

I’d love to attribute this phenomenon to the quality of the music created by my generation of recording artists. But it turns out that there is some science behind my daughters’ musical tastes. Research ?shows that music heard in late adolescence and early adulthood has the most impact and staying power through a person’s life. ?A recent study discovered what is called a “reminiscence bump.” Young people have strong, positive memories of the music their parents loved when they were that age.

Clearly, our kids are more open to blending and switching musical idioms than we were.

So in my family’s case, my daughters appreciate the music of the 60’s and 70’s as much as they enjoy hearing contemporary music. Science or not, clearly our kids are more open to blending and switching musical idioms than my generation was.

I have decided to create a new family practice: Solicit one recommendation from my daughters, each week, of a new artist that I don’t know. Like all great traditions, this new one will help connect and bind us as a family.

So far, my daughters have introduced me to Valerie June, an amazing American vocalist whose sound encompasses folk, blues, gospel, soul, country, Appalachian and bluegrass.

Does your family share music recommendations between generations? If not, give it a try when you’re together, and let me know how it goes.

2 thoughts on “Tune in to Your Kids’ Taste in Music”

  1. Mark…you couldn’t have written a better parenting story. You make music a family affair in such a healthy way – holding together clarity about what you do think is problematic, commitment to spending time introducing/teaching/enjoying with your kids the music you do like AND taking seriously their choices that you do find worthwhile. You have daughters who are fortunate! Thanks for sharing…Irwin

  2. My first two children were girls. When the second was 3, someone gave her a toy pendant with earphones that played a single song by Brittany Spears. I saw my daughter mouthing the words, and asked her what she was singing. She sang, “Hit Me Baby One More Time.” I decided it was time for me to introduce them to my music. Within 3 months, both daughters were enamored with the music of Buddy Holly, The Beatles, and The Clash, and they knew every word to Bye Bye American Pie and the entire soundtrack of the classic musical 42nd Street. As I said to a friend, “every time they listen to American Pie, that’s four Brittany songs they don’t have time for.” When they more recently began to idolize Taylor Swift, of whom I more or less approved, I learned the words to most of the songs on her first two albums, and sang all of them with my daughters and their friends on a 4 hour road trip to see Taylor at Penn State (the 3rd time in two weeks they saw her). Music is most definitely a family affair in our house.

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