By Mihir Joshi
Rap music! That is the big thing today in India. Especially with Gully Boy being as massive as it is right now. The question then is, when can you let your child listen to rap or any popular music, for that matter?
I would like to change that question in your minds by offering this thought. In this world, in my opinion, there are only two real types of music. Good music and bad music and you’ll find good and bad in every genre. Be it rap, pop, rock, jazz, blues, Bollywood or any other industry defined genre of music. Also, the definition of good and bad music can change from time to time. What I mean is, while Eminem is great music for someone my age, would I want my baby or even a young child to hear Eminem? Maybe not.
So let’s talk about music from two perspectives. One is what is good and bad no matter what age you’re at. And two, what is age appropriate music for your baby or child.
If I had to think about babies, I would say that the music is a lot more important than the lyrics because when they are really young they are not paying attention to the words. All that they need is a good melody. So find music that your baby can enjoy and play it at volumes that don’t disturb the tiny beings. I would recommend older music just because I know it works well with my baby boy Neil too. I’ve played him artists like Elvis, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, Queen, Dire Straits, old Bollywood songs, some nice new ones, Indian classical music and, of course…Baby Shark! Though we’ve decided to limit his time with Baby Shark, just for our sanity!
I don’t actually see a problem playing him old hip hop and rock songs because they had simple rhythms and great poetry and song writing. Again, like I said, there’s nothing wrong with the genre…but there certainly are artists and songs you don’t want your child hearing because music makes a massive impact on children. What they hear and then sing influences how they behave and think. So be careful about what they get to hear.
Now what if your child is a little older and understands language. At that point of time, regulation of their music becomes so much more important. Words matter. Attitude matters. What your kids hear definitely shapes how they behave and think. At this point, it becomes imperative for you to pay attention to what they hear and see. Yes, that means more effort on your end…but hey, no one ever said that parenting is easy or part-time.
On a side note, I want to talk about reality shows, especially dance shows for kids. We see kids as young as eight years or maybe even younger gyrating on overly sexual songs and numbers which I’m sure they cannot completely comprehend at their young age. I am annoyed that kids that young are made to think about the difference between boys and girls. And that someone is his girlfriend or vice versa or that he has crush on a judge or stuff along those lines. Maybe they help sell the shows but what about the kids! Good god! I would never let my child be a part of a show that condones this. If your child is talented and wants to compete, that’s fine but you can decide the songs they dance on or the songs they get to sing. Don’t transfer your ambitions, desires and thoughts on to them. The word age-appropriate seems so sensible again. Right? I hope you agree with what I’m saying. If you don’t, convince me that I’m wrong or overthinking by writing to me in the comments or on Twitter.
I’m not going to tell you what is right and wrong for your child. That is up to you. But I’ll remind you about something I spoke about in my column Raising A Good Man. The decisions you make or the care you take in their formative years will shape how they become when they grow up.
(Coming soon: A playlist for preteens)
(The writer is a singer–his debut album Mumbai Blues won the GIMA Award for Best Rock Album in 2015–hosts his own talk show-The MJ Show and does live Hindi commentary for WWE. Follow him on twitter @mihirjoshimusic. Views are personal.)