The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.
After playing and performing Baha’i-inspired music around the world for more than a decade, I’ve heard my fair share of “when are you going to start making music for children?”
I quickly dismissed the idea every single time, finding excuses like “Isn’t there so much good stuff out there already?” or “I don’t want to move from one box to another, I want to branch out to a wider audience” or “kid’s music is so simple, I want to make music that’s lyrically and melodically ‘sophisticated’ and advanced.”
Then one day, as I sat in a room with my friend and her toddler, some children’s music was playing on YouTube. The melodies I heard were super catchy – a little annoying, but catchy. The lyrics however, were utter and total nonsense.
As my friend was talking, her voice fell into the background, and all I could hear was “yum yum, breakfast burrito” on repeat. She asked me a question that brought me back into the room. I admitted that I didn’t hear anything she said, and asked her how she found this channel and why she was playing this music for her child. She brushed it off with something like “she likes the music and the beat, and it doesn’t really matter what they’re singing because she’s still learning to talk anyways, and honestly, I’m too tired to look for something specific so I just put on the first thing I could find.”
Her explanation made me think immediately of the Baha’i teachings, especially this quotation from a talk Abdu’l-Baha gave in Washington, DC in 1912:
… The art of music is divine and effective. It is the food of the soul and spirit. Through the power and charm of music the spirit of man is uplifted. It has wonderful sway and effect in the hearts of children, for their hearts are pure and melodies have great influence on them.
I left thinking “Gosh, we musicians need to do better!” hoping that when the time came for my husband and I to start a family, things would be different. I was puzzled by what my friend had said, because while her daughter is learning to talk, wouldn’t that be most critical time to expose her to lyrics and melodies that are both catchy but also purposeful and meaningful?
As Abdu’l-Baha said, music has so much potential to uplift the spirit. It can also engage the mind. As a musician, I feel that melodies can be catchy while also being enjoyable and engaging, and that lyrics can speak to our intrinsic values, and our higher natures, no matter the audience. I had the feeling that I was not alone in my sentiments.
When I got home, I went down a deep internet rabbit hole, encountering the vast labyrinth of kid’s music. As I stood at the entrance of this labyrinth, I could see what my friend was talking about. So much content exists out there, making it hard to know where to start. Sure, I found a lot of enjoyable and engaging kid’s songs, but when it came to music with purpose and values, which spoke to the heart and the developing character of a child, possessed uplifting themes, and contributed to meaningful dialogue, I came up with a only a small handful of options.
I also read a 2016 study conducted at the University of Southern California Brain and Creativity Institute, which found that musical experiences and exposure in early childhood accelerates brain development, advancing intellectual, social-emotional, motor, language, and overall literacy in children.
Once I was able to exit this labyrinth, I reflected on the music I’d heard, the research I’d discovered and Abdu’l-Baha’s words, and I came out feeling like “Baby Shark” and “Yum yum breakfast burrito” just wouldn’t cut it for me. Soon after the visit to my friend’s house, COVID hit, my tours (and the world) were put on pause, and my husband and I learned that a family of our own was on the way. It was time to take matters into our own hands. So naturally, my software engineer/musician husband and I founded our own media company, while I was pregnant!
We call it Tiny Souls Media. Our mission: to foster positive values and characteristics in children, and nurture their relationships through intentional media.
As Baha’is and as new parents, we believe in the power of music to influence and transform hearts and minds, particularly in the early stages of a child’s development. As creators, we want to find ways to contribute to the children’s music and values-based educational space, helping tiny souls build a strong moral foundation through both lyrics and melodies. As developers, we want to build resources that are extremely accessible to grown-ups from all walks of life, faiths and backgrounds, engaging them in meaningful conversations about the spiritual and moral education of children.
Baha’u’llah, the prophet and founder of the Baha’i Faith, wrote “Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value. Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit therefrom.” We hope that Tiny Souls Media can help parents of small children polish those gems. Every person is born with intrinsic value, and that education can help us unearth those values.
Undoubtedly, as parents, creators and founders of Tiny Souls Media, we’re deeply inspired by those words of Baha’u’llah, and also by this explanation from the democratically-elected leadership body of the world’s Baha’is, the Universal House of Justice:
Children are the most precious treasure a community can possess, for in them are the promise and guarantee of the future. They bear the seeds of the character of future society which is largely shaped by what the adults constituting the community do or fail to do with respect to children. They are a trust no community can neglect with impunity.
Our children are our most precious treasures, not only because we love them but also because they “bear the seeds of the character of future society …” The result of the future of humanity is largely shaped by the way we grown-ups nurture and foster the values and positive character of our most precious treasures.
So not only did we want to create songs that spoke to uplifting values and positive characteristics, but we wanted to empower adults with the tools and resources to take the learning one step further, and engage in intentional interactions and meaningful conversations that would internalize these concepts with the little ones in their lives.
So we created the Tiny Souls App – the first product from Tiny Souls Media.
The Tiny Souls App is a fun, engaging, resourceful, and accessible iOS and Android app, designed to be used by parents, caregivers, and educators as a toolkit, filled with an ever-growing catalog of songs, resources, and interactive media that teach children the necessary life skills to have positive and meaningful relationships with the people and the environment around them. The app explores uplifting themes and characteristics such as truthfulness, justice, courage, helpfulness, generosity, and navigating big feelings.
We welcome you to check out our website www.tinysoulsmedia.com for more information, listen to sample of some of the Tiny Souls songs here, and join us on Facebook at Instagram @tinysoulsmedia to be part of the Tiny Souls community!