Do we have a duty to give our kids a good taste in music?

A father and daughter sharing a pair of headphones. Should we be making sure children have good taste in music?

Yesterday, I found myself in a radio studio for an appearance on BBC Five Live. It’s not the first time I’ve been on that particular channel, but it was easily the most fun to date.

I joined Lyndsey from Muma on the Edge in Nihal Arthanayake’s brilliantly-named School Runnings section.

The topic surrounded whether parents have a duty to give their children a good taste in music.

Inspired by the very real threat of Baby Shark ending up as Christmas number one, Nihal wanted to know what we thought of songs like it as well as the other music we share with our kids.

Starting with Baby Shark specifically, I’m already very familiar with it. We’ve been singing it at Rhymetime with youngest for a year or so!

While the version that’s gone viral is immensely irritating, I quite like the original song.

It’s a fun one to sing with kids and it teaches them basic storytelling. As well as warning of the folly of going for a swim with predators, of course.

So, while I’d be happy for it to disappear from the charts well ahead of the festive season, it’s fun and educational and we definitely won’t stop singing it anytime soon.

That’s not to say that real music needs to be forgotten though. Oh no. We regularly play the things we like to our kids and they seem to enjoy them.

One of the key reasons for this is that we think it’s so important to give them a musical education from an early age.

The majority of the music we play – and, indeed, that they request – is the likes of Maxïmo Park, Kasabian and Kaiser Chiefs. We play lots of other stuff though.

Among a great many others, they’re also familiar with The Beatles, Tom Petty and, as you can see from this tweet from March, Chas n Dave. RIP, Chas.

We also let them listen to things that they’ve heard via films, parties and school discos. So the likes of Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Pharrell Williams and Justin Timberlake get played a lot too. In short, they get a lot of variety.

The general consensus on yesterday’s show was that introducing kids to an eclectic range of music was the way forward. Obviously, as it’s what we’ve been doing all along, I agree with this as an approach.

It shows kids what’s out there and lets them make their own minds up. And, yes, I think it also quietly reduces the chances of them liking stuff I think of as rubbish!

So do we have a duty to give our kids a good taste in music? I say yes.

What do you think?


  1. john Adams

    Oh my word, yes we have an obligation to introduce our kids to good music. Otherwise our lives would simply be dominated by What Does the Fox Say of Parry Grip. Alas, I think all kids go through a phase of listening to trashy pop, but so long as you have built them solid musical foundations, I am sure they drift back to the better stuff in later life. Thought provoking stuff Tom! Wish I ‘d had the chance to hear you on the radio.

  2. Enda Sheppard

    It’s funny Tom … direct efforts to get our now teenagers to listen to songs I love when they were younger would invariably fail … so we let them at it … but our daughter, in particular, has been discovering some old stuff that we would know and love, and there have been some great sharings and conversations. Just don’t try to force anything seems to bo be the thing, and let things happen organically #BlogCrush

  3. Jo

    I guess that I am lucky at the minute that my little girl likes all the Disney music, but I think I will let her make her own choices as she grows up. #BlogCrush

  4. dfoxly

    So do we have a duty to give our kids a good taste in music?
    A duty, no. Exposure to some of the good stuff us dad’s like, yes! My three year old daughter likes dancing around to the Trolls soundtrack in the house but when we are in the car she requests Pink Floyd (Another brick in the wall). Even that one gets tiring after the 99th play!

  5. Anne

    My kids can sing most of the Beatles Lyrics thanks to their Dad, they are also used to most music from the last century and the one before. But…when they put their headphones on they are listening to the latest tunes.
    Thankfully the days of ‘baby’ music are behind us but it did get us through some tough sleepless nights.

  6. Toni

    Yes! We have never listen to a kids cd in the car and never will! When my oldest was a baby Metallica put her to sleep every car ride and my youngest Chris Stapleton did the trick. Why those? No clue but it worked and I wasn’t going to fight it. My 3 year old is in love with Led Zepplin and country music and weird farm songs.

    We will continue to expose her to different music because we love music. Frank Sinatra is another one my oldest is currently getting in to.

    Music is like its own culture and I want her to be exposed to it all! Plus she loves music the girl can hear a song twice and know just about every word!

    So she is learning new words and memorization skills! #blogcrush

  7. Daydreams of a Mum

    Great post!!! I seem to have subliminally seeped my dodgy music taste into the kids consciousness . I’ll be singing to some lame 90’s tune and the kids join in for me to ask how they know that song to get an eyeroll and a finger point. Works both ways though teen girl is a big music fan and I’ll often ask what she’s listening to then sneak it on my playlist!!
    Congratulations , someone loved this post so uch they added it to our #blogcrush linky !!

  8. Shaun O'Connor

    I think it is very important that kids get a good all round introduction to a wide variety of musical genres and styles. otherwise what happens , as is already becoming evident,is that music is poorly produced, is often meaningless and has no life. I have been fortunate in this regard in that as a child( many moons ago), I was exposed to, and was actively encouraged to listen to, a wide variety of musical styles, of course it led to me being teased by my peers because unlike the majority of them I could quite happily listen to serious classical(Beethoven or Bach) as well as the current pop fare that was prominent at the time. I think, althoughI’m sure some would disagree that exposure to a wide range of musical styles is good for ones emotional development.

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