“The music that young people listen to today is explicit, repetitive, and just sounds bad.”
Many parents and leaders struggle to understand the music that youth are attracted to. We wish they’d see the lack of quality in modern music and discover better music, whether it be Christian versions of modern music, or some of the classic rock/pop songs of past decades. When we express our desire for our youth to do a better job of discerning music, we are met with hostility and frustration that we don’t understand them and the conversation usually ends.
Discernment is the skill to understand the many tiny details of a song (including its impact on us), so that we can wisely choose a healthy response to it. We have the opportunity to teach good discernment by practicing our own skills alongside the youth. If they see us carefully considering each song, it’s impact, and then choosing a measured response, they will be more interested in engaging in the process themselves.
Exploring an unknown artist, song, genre, or topic can be intimidating, so here are four questions that can be asked of any song, to help get the conversation started.
- What is the mood of the song? Observe whether your mood changed as the song played.
- What stood out to you in the song? Explore what aspects (sounds, words, themes) stick in your memory even after the song has stopped playing.
- Why do you think the artist wrote this song? Wonder aloud what reasons the artist might have had to write this song and imagine if there is a particular reaction the artist hoped you have (as a listener).
- How does the Bible talk about the theme of the song? Connect the theme of the song to verses or stories of the Bible that come to mind, questioning whether the song reinforces these aspects of the Biblical story, or contradicts it.
So the next time a new song comes on the radio, begin by asking yourself and your youth these four curious questions. You’ll feel less intimidated by new music and your youth will be more open to engaging in the second part of discernment, which is choosing a healthy response to the song.