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Call It the Umbilical Chord

Brager's approach was simple: He exposed his son to the music he loved early and often. He also associated the music with his son's daily routine, such as taking a bath or getting ready for bed. There was music, no matter what they were doing.

Later, Brager organized regular father-son trips to jazz festivals and performed a personal nightly rendition of the jazz standard "When You're Smiling" right before Larry's bedtime.

Davie Yarborough, left, who plays piano, gained an early appreciation of music from her musician dad, Davey, and vocalist mom, Esther Williams. (Photos Hans Ericsson For The Washington Post)

"Today, music is a part of his life," Brager says of his son, "and although he likes more contemporary popular music, he takes it very seriously."

Down in Clearwater, Fla., Robert and Claire Li Franki got innovative with their music education.

They compiled a DVD, "The A to Z Symphony," which consists of 26 independent, one-minute videos set to the melodies of some of classical music's most well-known compositions. A letter of the alphabet, a sample of vocabulary words and the title of the music and the composer precede each video.

For example, Rossini's "William Tell" Overture plays while the letter A and the words "arrow" and "apple" become the focus of a short video. Tchaikovsky's "1812" Overture features the letter F, the U.S. flag and fireworks. The concept teaches children to associate the letters and the words (depending upon the age group), but it ultimately seeks to expose the young to Mozart, Bach and Vivaldi. For the Frankis, the motivation was their 6-year-old daughter Nicole.

"When we moved to Florida from Manhattan, we looked for music programs for our daughter, but we couldn't find any," Bob Franki says. So they developed something on their own, formed a company -- Classical Fun Music -- and produced the CD.

"We asked ourselves," Bob recalls, "couldn't we combine fun and music with a higher quality of music?"

The music appreciation process should be fun, too, experts say. But whatever form of music you seek to promote with your children, there are time-tested rules: expose them to the music early and often; make music a recurring positive experience; and be creative. There are so many ways to make the musical experience fresh and new every day.

Yarborough and his wife are pleased with their early efforts.

Says Yarborough of his daughter, "She has a very vast listening library and a wide appreciation of all kinds of music."

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