How Parents Can Use Music To Change Their Kids’ Lives

Aug 27, 2015 by


Jeffrey Pflaum

PLEASE NOTE: For all interested readers, this is a follow-up article to a previous piece titled, “Music Listening Changes Children’s Lives,” in EDUCATION NEWS. The link to the article is:

Play music, think about things, and write about whatever happened inside while listening. This simple technique helps release and exchange inner worlds peacefully. Music creates, connects, and heals communication lines between people.

Contemplation Music Writing” introduces a novel approach for using music as a way to lead kids on journeys of self-discovery about their lives. Parents, homeschooling parent-teachers, and educators alike can use my innovative, challenging, and rewarding approach to develop better relationships with their children, along with greater focus, self- and other-awareness, motivation, compassion, as well as improved academic skills in writing, reading, thinking, and creativity.

This is an original method for using music, so you’ll need an open mind. Music listening and contemplating inner experiences create a whole new world inside kids (grade 2 and beyond), where they become avatars in landscapes of mind, imagination, body, heart, and spirit. It worked in my inner-city classrooms for over 25 years and I wrote many articles to support this claim.

I believe my music technique can be scaled down to 1-to-1 and small group situations. One of the biggest differences would be the greater intensity fostered with fewer people involved. Also, if you’re a parent bent on creating openness with your children, you’ll become a crucial link to make the potential connection work. In other words, you would do contemplation music writing along with your child, or else how would you understand and appreciate what s/he is going through while listening to music?

How contemplation music writing works:

  1. Play your child’s favorite or preferred music for 10 minutes. Let s/he choose the songs. (Note: Time can be increased to 15 minutes, pending on schedules.)

(2) NOTE: Parents are participants and will complete the activity along with children

to build intra- and interpersonal communication skills together.

  1. While the music plays, kids and parents close their eyes and visualize and contemplate whatever is happening inside them. Feelings, thoughts, ideas, memories, present-moment events, fantasies, daydreams, dreams, and physical sensations are all part of inner experience.
  1. After listening to music and contemplating (no writing is done up to this point), everyone takes a minute of “think time” to recall any inner experiences that occurred, no matter how goofy, silly, or “crazy” they might be.
  2. Following the “recall-and-reflect” time, children and parents write about whatever

happened internally. All these events become possible subject areas for contemplation music writing.

  1. NOTE: Parents should practice the activity (sans the discussion) several times before

introducing it to their kids because it would familiarize them with the listening, contemplating, visualizing, and writing processes involved in the project.

  1. Each person writes 50 words or more on 4” x 6” index cards. The writings, also called “contemplations,” can be about real world present moment and past events, or something made up (imaginary) by the child or adult. There are no right and wrong answers to the contemplations. (Note: Length of writings can be adjusted—made longer or shorter—according to age/grade levels.)
  1. Following the music listening, contemplating, and writing, parent and child re-read their contemplations silently and then hand it to their partner for silent reading. When the silent readings are completed, each takes a turn reading theirs out loud to the other. The parent starts off the next step by asking the child questions about the writing.
  1. NOTE: Probably the most difficult part of the “music technique” for parents as well as teachers is asking questions to probe a child’s contemplations, especially making up impromptu questions. It takes practice to figure out which questions will lead children to greater awareness and inner-sights. So you’re going to ask questions about the recalling and writing about inner experiences and the contemplation process: looking carefully and continually at what circulates around the mind and imagination.

(10) Basic discussion questions parents can ask their kids:

  • What mind-pictures did you visualize while listening to music?
  • What feelings did you experience while listening to the music?
  • What thoughts and ideas came to mind while listening and contemplating?
  • What else happened inside that you didn’t write about or express?
  • How did it feel to contemplate what was happening in your inside world?

(11) Kids can also ask their parents questions:

NOTE: This is a two-way street of communication and finding out about how and what the other person thinks, their feelings, and experiences that whirled around inside during contemplation.

Give your kids time to figure out what questions to ask. They will learn how to ask their own questions after listening to yours. Here the adult models a question-and-answer technique and the child follows up.

This is a way to build stronger bonds, open-mindedness, and communication between

you and your child. By using this technique children will learn to ask questions about life

on the inside and outside.

(12) Sample questions children can ask parents:

  • What pictures did you see or imagine in your mind?
  • What were you thinking while listening to the music?
  • What were you feeling while the music played?
  • How did you feel contemplating your inside world?
  • Did you enjoy listening, contemplating, and writing about yourself?
  • Note: Parents can write out the above questions on paper and let kids use them for discussing the contemplations. Give children a little head start for asking questions. After they get more into contemplation music writing, I feel they will come up with, and surprise you, with some original questions of their own. These questions will help them become potential discussion leaders.

(13) Suggested opening questions parents—and children—can ask:

  • Did you enjoy listening to music and contemplating your experiences? Why?
  • Was it easy or hard to contemplate your experiences? Why?
  • Did anything surprise or amaze you while contemplating?
  • What were you thinking and feeling during the contemplation?
  • Did you visualize or imagine anything while listening?
  • Did any words come to mind while contemplating? Give an example.
  • Did you feel confused at any time while listening and contemplating?

(14) Simple, basic questions that would apply to most writings:

  • What mind-picture(s) are described?
  • What feelings and thoughts are expressed?
  • What is the main idea or message of the contemplation writing?
  • Did the contemplation make you think about anything in your life?

Parent and child continue practicing the contemplation music writing lessons once or twice a week during the year. Music listening, contemplating, writing, silent/oral readings of each other’s work, discussing, and questioning the contemplation writings will eventually become a routine habit between the participants.

Writing and questioning (discussion) will probably be difficult at the start, but parents should give it time to develop and improve for children and adults. Remember that the child is free to ask any questions after the parent reads his/her writing orally. Before the oral readings parent and child exchange the contemplations and read them silently first.

Need more information and background?

See my post, “Using ‘Music Writing’ to Trigger Creativity, Awareness and

Motivation” (4/2/12) at:

Check out my previous post on EDUCATION NEWS (7/21/15): “Music Listening Changes

Children’s Lives” at

Please read my post, “’Contemplation’ Strikes Emotional Chords with Kids,” at:

Google a recent article titled, “Former teacher uses music to educate students,” by Jess Berry

(Queens Ledger, June 30, 2014)

Please go to my website,, for samples of students’ contemplation music writings, themes culled from their work, and author articles on “Contemplation Writing.”

Still have questions? Contact me at and I will be glad to help you introduce Contemplation Music Writing to your kids.

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