I was raised in a household in which classical music prevailed -- we had countless records (among them, A Treasury of Greatest Classical Music Recordings, volumes 1-12, at least) devoted to the music genre, which were later replaced by cassette tapes and CDs. The radio stations in the family room and kitchen were set to classical music stations; I studied classical piano for years; we attended classical music concerts from the time we were young.
Yes, my music tastes began to range the older I got, but I was always drawn back to classical in some form or another. And so, I decided that I would pass on to my children that music appreciation gift my parents bestowed on my brothers and me.
From the time my children were infants, I had an all-classical radio station playing in the nursery. Of course, when I'm roused at 2 a.m. by a wailing baby, I want him/her to relax with milk and I should relax with music. So I'd sit in the rocking chair, baby and bottle in arms, listening dreamily to the lulling sounds of middle-of-the-night classical music (which is indeed lulling; no raucous booming cannon sounds or timpani at that wee hour of the morning, thanks to brilliant radio programmers). And even when my children slept through the night, or for daytime naps, I'd keep the music playing softly in the background.
As they got older, I introduced them to jazz music, listening to the music while we were driving in the car or were hanging out in the kitchen or family room. And then I started to test them to see if they could differentiate between what was jazz music and what was classical music.For the most part, these children enjoyed this quiz and managed to get the answer right. Sometimes when I'd say: "A, that's right! How did you know?" I got a shrug of the shoulders in return. Just a good guess, or perhaps the inability to put into words the differences they were hearing...?
My daughter's bedtime routine now consists of arranging her stuffed toys alongside her, putting on a couple of night lights, putting on her sound machine with the sound of a heartbeat that will play for an hour, and putting on her radio to play for an hour -- she often can't decide between a jazz station and a classical station, but nine times out of ten, it's the classical station that wins out.
I guess those early days of classical music in the nursery have paid off...