My son will sometimes come home singing a melody that he heard at school or at a friend’s house. He will stay busy for awhile, singing it or trying to figure out how to play it on the piano or guitar.
When this happens, I try to find out why he is drawn to this piece. As an irreplaceable window into his heart, it is a gift to me. The music’s words, melody and feeling give me a language that he understands – one that I better learn fast if I want to recognize who he is and who he is becoming!
When I learn about his passion, I learn about how to love him – how to walk with him through the challenges and victories he faces. “Everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God…. for God is love” (1 John 4). So music that teaches us about love is about God, and the way we interact with music can be about God in the same way.
Does music touch you?
Does music touch you? Share that with your children, and why it touches you. In time they will come to know and appreciate ‘your’ music – if they know what your connection is to it.
Also, to someone whose only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. Expanding beyond what you know and learning to appreciate new songs and genres will give you more understanding, which will help you to relate with your children.
The universal language of music
It will also help you to have resources available to show your children. As the universal language, music can take us places that the spoken word cannot, and there is almost always a piece of music that speaks to the theme or feeling that people in your family are currently going through.
And if you have the chance to choose what music your family will listen to, choose music that helps to develop your connection with your children. Especially encourage pieces with a positive message and energy that all of you can relate to.
Look for great examples of music
There are great examples at church and on both Christian and secular radio. Even though something may not talk about God directly, it may talk about God, creation, valid feelings or something else valuable for your family’s faith life which you can discuss together.
You can only influence musical choices by knowing the music. If a piece concerns you, look deep into your heart about why you are concerned. Make sure that you are concerned about the content of the song, more so than the way the message comes. Songs and messages are similar from age to age, but it means something for each generation to explain what it is experiencing in its own voice. Open your heart to greater understanding of that voice and hear how God is touching you all.
(Steve Dressel, Former Liturgical Music Director, St. Boniface Parish, Waukee)