“This House Is Bugged!” Ensign, June 1988, 67–68
Tape-recording your children while they are young—and even when they are not so young—can make a treasured “talking book of remembrance.” It’s one step better than writing a child’s funny words in his or her journal, and it’s not as elaborate or expensive as home movies or videotapes. As a matter of fact, when we started recording our children, we didn’t even own a tape recorder; we borrowed one from the ward library.
Following are a few ways to capture your children’s voices on tape.
The Sly Approach: Turn on the recorder without the child knowing it. One of my greatest triumphs was when I caught my three-year-old playing under the kitchen table. I carefully dangled a mike over the table’s edge and now have a fifteen-minute recording of my child crooning to and loving her doll.
Kitchen-Sink Variety: This is probably the most natural type of recording. Here Mom or Dad chats with the children while they prepare meals or clean up.
Notes on Tape: Anything goes, whether it be an official family choir, a musical recital, or a child singing his favorite songs, complete with his own melodies and lyrics. “Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbean” is one we love.
Do-It-Yourself Drama: I know a family who loves to record family dramas, complete with knights in shining armor and fierce dragons. Children can take turns acting and making the accompanying sound effects.
We Gather Together: Some families enjoy taping such events as Christmas Eve, Christmas morning, family reunions, birthdays, or other holidays.
Love at Home: Taping family home evening records the family’s spiritual development. It’s fun to listen to a child answer doctrinal questions or tell a biblical story in his or her own words.
Person-to-Person: Many parents enjoy taping interviews with their children. They can record a child’s progress, hopes, and dreams, in addition to reflecting physical and emotional growth.
A Present for the Future: You may have aunts and uncles, friends, grandparents, or missionaries who would appreciate a tape of your children’s voices—providing it is a reasonable length. While a parent may think her child is an entire tape’s worth of cuteness, the recipient may think ten to fifteen minutes’ worth is plenty.
When making your tapes, remember that the more natural the setting and the more relaxed the subjects, and the better the results. I am a great advocate of truth in taping, and if an argument or resistance occurs during a recording session, I keep my finger away from the “off” button. Someday the incident may be amusing—or, at worst, educational.
Check your recording periodically for excessive background noise or static from a nervous child who is rubbing the microphone against her tummy, mouth, or the chair. Make sure the volume is at the proper level.
The best tapes to use are sixty-minute cassettes, which are less likely than longer tapes to break, jam, or have sound print-throughs. Don’t fast-forward or rewind tapes before storing them; this winds the tape very tightly, increasing the risk of print-through. Keep cassettes away from magnetic fields and extremes of heat or moisture. Store them in their plastic containers to keep out dirt.
To be sure a recorded-on tape won’t be accidentally erased, remove the two square plastic tabs on the back of the cassette. You can still add to the tape or reuse it later by putting cellophane tape over the tab holes.—Gail Andersen Newbold, Bountiful, Utah