If, like most people, you want your child to grow up cultured, or at least, somewhat fermented, one of the best ways is to make sure he likes classical music. Countless surveys1 show that children who like classical music grow up to become adults who like classical music, which means they are automatically smarter than everyone else around them. And while not every CEO is the smartest bulb in the toolshed, brains can certainly give children an edge in their careers, helping them to get into Oxford or Cambridge, thus assuring a salary in the six digits before they reach adolescence.
So here are five steps2 to make sure little Britten grows up enjoying classical music. Trust me, this works.
1. Play it to him in the womb. If you happen to be male, you can use this as an excuse to rig up a whole new surround-sound stereo system, revolving around your wife’s belly. She may find it a bit restrictive, but just use the line, “Come on, honey, it’s for the baby.” Tell her he’ll be a genius, and make lots of money. If, on the other hand, you are female, you may find it more pleasant to bathe in a soothing musical hot tub, which allows the sound waves to flow through the water into your body, and thus into your baby’s body. This is your chance to convince your husband to buy that musical jacuzzi. Remember the line, “Come on, honey, it’s for the baby.”
2. Play it to him in the car. If, by the time the baby is born, you don’t see him tapping his fingers and toes to Bach’s Bourrée in E Minor, it’s time to take it to the next level. Every time you drive the baby anywhere—the doctor, the zoo, the movies, the library, fast food restaurants—pop in a classical cd, or tune into the local classical station. If the baby cries, turn the music up louder—either they can’t hear it well enough or they just don’t realise how soothing it is. Don’t give up. Oh, and on those twelve-hour drives to the in-laws for Christmas, when the baby cries the whole way and won’t fall asleep for his morning nap, afternoon nap, or evening nap? Just play Chopin on repeat. He’ll be humming along by the third time, or else he’ll fall asleep from boredom—either way, you win.
3 & 4. Try persuasion, then coercion. If for some reason your child still does not like classical music after nine months of listening in the womb, and say, a year of listening at all times while driving, the next step is to persuade. Tell your child how wonderful classical music is. “This is the height of manmade beauty, just like the sound of flowers blooming in the springtime.” “All the famous dead people listened to it, and all the DJs on [local classical radio station] like it.” “Aunt Evelyn used to play the cello, in primary and secondary school.” “Darth Vader plays Chopin every time he rallies his troops.” When persuasion doesn’t work, move on to coercion. “If you don’t like Bach, you can’t have chocolate.” “You’ll learn to like it, or you won’t play outside ever again.” “It’s Mozart or no Christmas this year. Take your pick.”
5. If all else fails, speak to him in a dead language. “The deader, the better,” as the slogan goes. If you speak to him in ancient Latin, Greek, or Egyptian hyieoglyphs, he will start to think anything newer than mom and dad’s language must be “cool,” i.e. “hip,” i.e. fashionable, which will lead him to enjoy anything newer than Gregorian chant. Thus, classical will be his music of choice, and you’ll have him rocking out to Beethoven immediately.
“The Old Violin,” by William Michael Harnett (1848-1892). Public domain.