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You might know some parents who put on Beethoven at bedtime for their newborn, insisting that it will make them smarter. They claim that, maybe, once they’re old enough, they’ll be a natural genius at the violin or piano.

It seems today that exposing your young children to classical music may be the secret way to supercharge their Juilliard application.

Of course music is good for you, especially as a young person – it is intellectually and emotionally stimulating, and practicing a musical instrument prepares you for all types of life’s challenges.  One could simply have music in the background of their lives as a provocateur of intense feeling.   But what this trend is missing is the importance to instill a life-long love of music in your young child.

“This is important, you should listen to it,” isn’t a good enough reason for early listeners to fall in love with this music.

As a young person, forming a connection with seminal classical works is hugely advantageous if they decide to go into the musical field.

There’s so much to learn about when a student starts practicing music; whether it be learning how to master reading notes, learning different styles of playing, learning about potential universities, and so on.  The problem is, the students who are naturally more talented or have had the ability to practice longer are often more successful in these outlets.  The connection many students may have formed with the music itself may face a crisis when it confronts competition in school.  If a student keeps practicing, but still isn’t better than their peers, they constantly feel like they have done something wrong.

This is the weakness in musical education.  It can’t just be about cultivating the best musicians.  Music teachers have to teach everyone how to listen to music so we will have people who want to keep learning music for generations.  The talent will occur naturally.

Not everyone will be the best violinist or pianist, but what we can do as parents and teachers, is teach our kids how to appreciate music.  The most apparent problem facing musical education is intense competition to be the best without appreciation for the legacy of the music’s history.  So put Beethoven on at bedtime, and sing and dance along. Talk to your children about the impact he had on his generation so that his influence will endure for years to come.