Music for Toddlers

This is a guest post from “Pierre,” a Dad of two toddler boys who want to rock. 

“The drums are pounding, the bass is booming, the guitars are distorted and crunchy and the vocals are going full, that’s metal.”

This is a good definition of metal by Dee Snider. Now, while your toddler might not be ready to understand how Black Sabbath created its unique and influential sound in 1970, you do not need to go to the extreme of giving your toddler elevator music or smooth jazz. Kids, especially boys, want to pound the drums. They show interest for guitars and go full on vocals, but, unfortunately, their little fingers cannot handle an electric bass to produce the booming sound.

My wife and I quickly realized the lameness of music for toddlers, so I exposed my own two to an eclectic mix in the car: The Cure, 10,000 Maniacs, Deep Purple, Pink Floyd, Midnight Oil, Guns N’ Roses. The mixture is just as bilingual as the toddlers themselves, so the list continues with La Unión, Charly García, Andrés Calamaro, Soda Stereo…

My first born quickly showed interest for a couple of songs, and before he was two, he would repeat a couple of choruses here and there. His picks were “Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple and from the other half of the list he went all out for Soda Stereo’s “Nada Personal.” And I mean all out. He would ask to play it again saying, “Ma Nada, ma Nada!” (Más Nada, or More Nada) Conversely, he would recognize the beginning of other songs as not being his favorite, and he would protest like a toddler protests. At home he quickly learned (my wife and I did not know) that hitting the space bar in YouTube makes the video play again, and again, and again.

Here is a link to the concert version of “Nada Personal” they like the best.

By the time his brother was around, he got hooked on the Argentinian rock movement too (they might be time travelers from the eighties) and started to ask for “Nada Personal” as well. Recently, I walked in a music store with both of them in a double stroller. I did not say anything, waiting to see their reactions. As soon as they were surrounded by the amplifiers, guitars, and a drum kit, the little one started to sing “Nada Personal.”

Then I knew I was doing something correct in how I was exposing them to music.

Play this, not this

Earlier this year, my kids left screaming and crying as soon as the “Music for Toddlers” program started in a local library. The “leader” was an older lady with a name tag who played some smooth jazz/elevator music through a boom box. Now, when the kids follow their favorite song singing while holding a guitar or pounding their plastic containers like if they were a drum kit, my wife and I look at each other and say how we would like to show Cerati how far his music expanded and is passed on from one generation to the next.

Gustavo Cerati, the leader and voice of Soda Stereo passed away while my oldest toddler and I were in Lima. That day the radios played Soda Stereo all day, and my son went crazy when he heard his favorite song. He was almost two. I felt an amazing connection with him. Although he was born and he is being raised in a different country than mine, we share a lot of things in common. He talks to me in Spanish, we both love chocolate milk, cats, and The Smurfs among other things. We both eat spicy foods and now we have some bands in common. I could not ask for more.

When your music has a unique sound and transcends, I think you never die, Gustavo.

It is moving to think that from all the music that was played in the car, they picked perhaps the most iconic band from Latin America. I recently started to thank my wife for making these two clones of myself.


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