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The Fatherly Podcast Episode 29: Can We Fix Kids’ Horrible Music Taste?

They're drawn to songs that may, at times, make us want to pull our ears out. But there are ways to encourage musical discovery without being authoritarian.

The internet has given us access to more music — in more genres, by more artists, and from more places — than we could ever listen to and yet our kids insist on listening to “Cat Flushing a Toilet” on repeat. In this episode of The Fatherly Podcast, Joshua David Stein and Jason Gay look into how to convince young people to stop playing bad music (not offensive, annoying) again and again. How do we expand children’s musical interests and how we can best make them listen to stuff we like guide them toward inspiring discoveries? Let’s just say this: It’s complicated, but it can be done.

Looking for strategies, Joshua and Jason turned to John Schaefer, host of New York Public Radio’s Soundcheck and New Sounds, for advice. Schaefer is not only a father, he’s a encyclopedic font of knowledge about the world’s best music. Still, he recommends caution with kids. As soon as they sense musical proselytizing, they shut down. He suggests tricks to getting around this and recommends ways of sharing music with kids and talking about it that can trigger curiosity and openness to more sophisticated ish. As it turns out, “Hakuna Matata” can be used to your advantage.

Schaefer also gives Joshua and Jason some tips for using the internet to get kids out of the “Cat Flushing a Toilet” musical rut (apologies to Parry Gripp, who’s actually kind of a genius) and out in the open.