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Music Makes a Difference

Exposing children to a variety of music builds memories and may unveil hidden talents.

Isn’t it amazing how a certain song can take you back to a time and place?

As I sit here, Norah Jones’ silky voice is doing just that. Her album, “Come Away With Me,” debuted just as I was about to deliver my oldest son in May 2002. After having him, rather than watch Judge Judy on the hospital room TV, my husband and I chose to listen to music the entire four days of my recovery.

Every time I hear “Don’t Know Why,” “Come Away With Me” or “Sunrise,” feelings of love fill me, just as they did while I laid there with our first-born.

I like to think that the music we listen to in our home will create the same positive emotions for our children as they grow up.

We love music. Some of our favorite artists are They Might Be Giants, Johnny Cash, Indigo Girls and Nickel Creek. We definitely have an inclination for the bluegrass/folksy kind of tunes, but often branch out to big band, jazz, rock, world rhythms and classical. My older son loves the music played on NPR (National Public Radio).

I recently purchased the “Eat, Pray, Love” soundtrack after seeing two of my favorite artists--Eddie Vedder and Neil Young--on the back of the CD case. How could I know that my 4-year-old would have such an interest in it?

The fourth song on the CD is called “Der Holle Rache Kocht In Meinem Herzen" from “Die Zauberflote (The Magic Flute).” This was something new for us. It’s opera, and the female vocalist can nail a high C with no problem. Now my little guy is trying it to hit it, too!

We call it his “morning song” because he always asks me to play it on the way to pre-school. I love peeking at him through the rear-view mirror as he tries to sing the foreign words and hit those difficult notes.

By exposing him to this song, I wonder what is developing within him.

The next song on the CD, Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold” comes on, and a smile spreads across the little guy’s face.

“Mom?” he asks. “Why is dat guy goin’ ‘cross the ocean searchin’ for a pot of gold?”

I explain that he’s actually searching for a “HEART of gold,” which means someone who is kind, gentle and giving. “Ohhh,” he says. Nevertheless, he still sings, “searchin’ for a pot of gold” every time it comes on.

At night, I’ve always turned on a CD or sung to soothe the boys to sleep. Common requests are “Blackbird,” “You Are My Sunshine” and “Peace Like A River.” When selecting a CD, they'll often choose piano music from George Winston or David Lanz.

It makes me so happy that music is such an essential part of our home. Music fills us with so much emotion. It’s a release when we’re feeling sad and a joy when we’re already feeling happy.

I don’t think there’s anything better we could do for our children than expose them to the joy of music, for it will be carried with them the rest of their lives.

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