Can Parents Influence What Music Their Kids Like? A Musicologist Explains

Are your kids influenced by the music you listen to as a parent? Dr. Nolan Gasser wrote the book “Why You Like It: The Science and Culture of Musical Taste” to explore how we develop our musical tastes from a young age — and how you can influence it.

When it comes to musical taste, why do we love some things and can’t stand the sound of others? Is it something passed on from our parents or part of a different developmental process altogether?

“As parents, we do have some level of obligation to how we assist this process with our kids.” — Dr. Nolan Gasser

Courtesy of author Nolan Gasser
Courtesy of author Nolan Gasser

That’s what Dr. Nolan Gasser aimed to determine when he wrote his book “Why You Like It: The Science and Culture of Musical Taste,” which breaks down what musical taste is, where it comes from and what our favorite songs say about us.

“As the dad of two kids, I know you can only control so much with our kids but you can certainly lay down a foundation,” says Gasser, who is a composer and musicologist who helped create the Music Genome Project for Pandora Radio. 

“It’s really incredible that we are all hardwired to be musical,” adds Gasser. “Through our evolution and the way our brains work, we are able to process, understand, to synthesize different musical styles and how melodies are supposed to operate even by the times we’re six months old if not less.

Gasser joined CultureShift on 101.9 WDET to discuss the role parents play in developing their child’s musical taste.

Click the audio player above to hear Dr. Gasser discuss how parents shape their child’s musical taste.

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  • Ryan Patrick Hooper
    Ryan Patrick Hooper is the award-winning host of "In the Groove" on 101.9 WDET-FM Detroit’s NPR station. Hooper has covered stories for the New York Times, NPR, Detroit Free Press, Hour Detroit, SPIN and Paste magazine.