Crank up the volume: Research shows music brings families closer together

Kinderling News & Features

Here at Kinderling Kids Radio, we’ve always know that music is a beautiful way to bring the whole family together. Now there’s scientific research to back it up!

Orchestrate family harmony

A new study in Journal of Family Communication has shown that music bridges the gap between parents and children. Kids who grow up listening to music with their parents have better relationships with them later on.

"If you have little kids, and you play music with them, that helps you be closer to them, and later in life will make you closer to them," said study co-author Professor Jake Harwood of the findings.

Researchers asked a group of young adults (with an average age of 21) a series of questions including;

  • How frequently they listened to music with their parents
  • How much they played musical instruments with their parents
  • How often they attended concerts with their parents
  • What their memories of these experiences were between the ages of eight and 13, and then ages 14 and over
  • How they see their current relationship with their parents

Overall, their answers showed a clear connection between positive bonds and shared music experiences.

It’s key to crescendo

Jake said it was key to maintain these musical experiences with children as they grow into their teens, as this has an even stronger effect on your future relationship.

There are two reasons contributing to why music has this impact on families; coordination and empathy.

"Synchronisation, or coordination, is something that happens when people play music together or listen to music together," Professor Harwood said.

Listen to Kinderling Conversation:

Often music means you’re also dancing and singing together. The research data shows that engaging in these "synchronised activities, "causes you to like one another more".

And empathy comes into play through the emotions music evokes, which includes empathic responses towards your listening partner.

No major need to scale up the tempo

So, does this mean you need to have a family dance off every night, pick up a new family instrument and squeeze in concerts every weekend??

Fortunately (for your schedule and wallet), no!

The study found that listening to music in the car would be more impactful than setting up formal music situations. Encouraging them to choose the music every now and then is also a great way to form a strong connection.

"For people who are just becoming parents or have small children, they may be thinking long term about what they want their relationship with their kids to be," co-author Sandy Wallace said. "It's not to say that this is going to be the prescription for a perfect relationship, but any parent wants to find ways to improve their relationship with their child and make sure that it's maintained long term, and this may be one way it can be done."