These days, music has really changed from what we used to listen to when I was growing up. Don’t get me wrong; there’s a lot of great new music, but I find that sometimes I want to help my kids grow in their musical appreciation so that they can have a varied taste when they become adults.
Growing up, music was one of the ways that I connected with my dad. We would listen to a wide variety of songs and albums that varied from Bob Marley to music recorded for West Side Story. I really valued these listening sessions, and I think they have a huge benefit for a youngster, which is why I wanted to create this post about some older music that you can use to connect with your kids.
Personally, I love the audio fidelity of vinyl, so if you have an old-school record player, now’s a great time to pull out some of these classics if you have them.
Superunknown – Soundgarden
With the recent passing of Chris Cornell, I’ve found myself revisiting this album. Many parents think that their children’s music should be cheery and bright, but I think that the sometimes moody and soulful music of Superunknown can actually foster creative impulses in a child.
Soundgarden really brings it together in this album. If you have a teenager, then many of them may come to appreciate the tunes on this album.
Ultimate Sinatra – Frank Sinatra
Old Blue Eyes had one of the richest and most impactful voices in the music industry and his type of crooning is very rare in modern music. This is why exposing your young ones to a little bit of the Chairman of the Board can be very beneficial. The Ultimate Sinatra album was released in 2015 specifically to honor the 100-year anniversary of the singer’s birth.
It’s a full compilation, on the album you’ll find Sinatra classics like “All of Me,” “Someone to Watch Over Me,” and “My Funny Valentine.” In all, this album collection has over 100 songs, so you can really give your young one an impression of the type of music that Sinatra made his calling card.
Nessun Dorma – Luciano Pavarotti
While “Nessun Dorma” is one of the tracks on this album, it’s also the name of the album itself. Songs performed by Pavarotti include the title track, performances from the opera, “La Traviata,” and even pieces that go along with Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.”
Gaining an ear for the classics is important, and helping your child appreciate the music from ages past can enrich their lives greatly. Opera is specifically valuable; these musical performances often have fantastical plots that really jibe with the sensibilities of kids, so exposing them to the music on this album can really spark their imaginations and have them wanting to hear more.
OK Computer – Radiohead
Another album from the 90s, Radiohead’s OK Computer created something of a coup when it was first released. The album has some great music that has its share of semi-upbeat songs but it also has a few moody tunes as well, but the experience of the album is unique and varied enough to really engage your child’s mind.
Personally, I love to sing along to songs like “Karma Police” and “Subterranean Homesick Alien” with my son; they’ve become some of his favorite songs.
Dark Side of the Moon – Pink Floyd
Dark Side of the Moon takes you on a musical journey. It has tons of varied sounds that can really engage a listener. I love listening to this album while I’m out for a drive with my kids; the album kind of has an ongoing narrative, which I think is perfect for the engagement of a youngster’s mind. I even listen to this one on vinyl from time to time. Not every song has singing; in fact, some of my favorite songs from this album are instrumental-based.
“Brain Damage” and “The Great Gig in the Sky” are some of my daughter’s favorites.
The Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Soundtrack
I know what you’re thinking, “But, this album came out this year!” Well, that is true, but many of the tracks on this album are actually classics from the 70s and the 80s. With the popularity of pop music today, I find that music from this era is very compatible with the modern child/teenager.
I love to listen to tunes like “Mr. Blue Sky,” “Flashlight,” and “The Chain” with my kids when we’re having family music time.
Promised Land – Elvis Presley
Elvis was another musician that could croon when needed. His music isn’t quite as popular as it was when I was coming up, which is why I think it’s a great idea to expose my kids to his music. Elvis had a lot of great songs and I think it’s very worthwhile for kids to listen to the complex lyrics in songs like “Promised Land” and “You Asked Me To.”
A Night at the Opera – Queen
Simply put, there isn’t a song that’s better for a sing-along than Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” You’ll have tons of fun singing lyrics like “Scaramouche, will you do the Fandango?” with your kids. Once again, there’s something of a narrative structure to the songs from “A Night at the Opera,” which is perfect for kids that love to hear a story.
Peter and the Wolf – Sergei Prokofiev
There’s something fascinating about a symphonic fairy tale that tells a story using an orchestra to illustrate the narrative. The fact that the chief roles in the fairytale are highlighted by specific instruments like the bassoon and the oboe really will make your kids aware of the unique sounds of these classic instruments.
I find this very advantageous because much of modern music uses synthesizers and electronic sounds, and while there’s nothing wrong with that, I think that children should be made aware of the traditional instruments as well.
The honest truth is that there is a rich world of music to introduce to your kids. If you value it, let your kids get a sample of it. It’s important to expand one’s horizons, and music is a great way to broaden the experiences of your children.