It should come as no surprise by now that music makes up a huge part of my life. In fact, I think I’ve mentioned it enough that it’s just a given by now. Hell, I’ve even released three books with music as a central theme!
The other night, I was sitting around listening to music with my daughter and we had some pretty great discussions about the different songs that played, like we always do. At four years old she is already full of little rock and roll factoids and it makes my heart smile.
As I was contemplating writing a post about it, I remembered that I had written about how important her musical education is to me. Today, I will be sharing that post exactly as it first appeared on my old blog on January 10, 2014.
Last night, Almost-Mother-In-Law and I were sitting at the dining room table discussing my concerns that my daughter has inherited insomnia. It runs high in both my family and Almost-Husband’s and we have been fighting numerous sleep issues with her since she came out of the womb. As the conversation progressed, she started talking about what worked for her and her kids when they were small.
“We used to play an alphabet game,” she tells me. “I’d say, for example, animals that start with the letter B and he’d name one, then he’d ask me and so on.”
“I know that game!” I enthused. “Except when we played it with my mom we did bands or songs!” I went on, explaining that it didn’t stop with the alphabet. We’d do bands with a color in their name or songs with love in the title, for example. The games could go on for hours, especially on road trips. I still try to start one up every now and then.
Almost-Mother-In-Law looked perplexed for a moment. I could see the thoughts churning in her head: what kind of weirdo of a mom does that? How is that educational? There’s really people that into music? No wonder Brandyn’s the way she is!
I laughed as I explained that this is the same woman who had all us kids able to name all the members of the Beatles and the Stones by the time we could speak. In fact, a lot of time was dedicated to our Rock and Roll education. We’d listen to the radio and mom would give us a fun fact about the artist or the song. A rocker’s birthday never passed without acknowledgment. The older we got, the more in-depth the discussion became. We’d talk about the meanings of a song, the use of metaphors in lyrics, how to look at things in context. If we were looking for something to read, she’d helpfully guide us to an autobiography of a rock legend.
|She also would have bought us this bear.|
When we developed our own tastes, she’d make sure we had all the books and magazines we could want about our favorite bands and that we always had the full discographies. She’d go out at midnight to be sure we had the new releases when they came out. She’d listen with patience and enthusiasm while we prattled on about our favorite artists, even if she didn’t particularly like them or already knew what we were saying. She’d take us to concerts and signings, even if it meant a 7 hour drive or going without sleep the night before her yearly trip to Beatlefest. She validated our rights to have our own likes and opinions, to question the world around us, and to be heard. She encouraged our fancies. She made an effort to know what we were into and use those things as a frame of reference for teachable moments. In short, my mom rocks.
Now that I’m a mother, I find myself doing many of the same things. For example, the other day we were in the car and “I Can’t Drive 55” came on the radio. “That’s Sammy Hagar,” I told her. “He’s the Red Rocker. We like him solo, but we don’t like him with Van Halen.” She’s heard things like this repeatedly throughout her 14 months of life. She’s learning that David Bowie is the Thin White Duke, that David Lee Roth is Diamond Dave, that Johnny Cash is the Man in Black, that Ozzy Osbourne is the Prince of Darkness, Elvis is King and Lemmy is God. She hears that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are the Glimmer Twins and that Steven Tyler and Joe Perry are the Toxic Twins. I could go on with the nickname thing, but I think you get the point.
We watch music videos and I point out each of the band members and tell her what their name is and what instrument they play. We work on pumping our fists, flipping the horns, and banging our heads. We dance, we sing. If she responds strongly to a certain song, we make sure we play it often for her. All because I feel that music is just as important to her education as colors, shapes, or the ABCs. It’s a wonderful medium that provides rich ground for all sorts of learning possibilities, regardless of what type it is and I can’t wait to see where this part of our journey will take us.
Now, the funny thing about all this is that not even an hour after having this conversation with Almost-Mother-In-Law, I ran across this. Funny how life can sync up sometimes. For those of you who aren’t going to click the link, it’s a freakin’ hilarious piece about talking to your kids about Ozzy. It’s done in the style of a bit about talking to your kids about sex or drugs, and it just so perfectly captures how my family does things that I couldn’t help but to share.
Maybe your family’s thing isn’t music, or maybe it’s a different type of music. Maybe it’s baseball or it’s larping or something. Maybe your family has many “things”. Maybe your family hasn’t found its thing, yet. Whatever the case, I think shared interests serves to unify a family and strengthen it’s bond. They can provide a starting point for engaging conversations. The more you’re able to communicate, the more chances you have to impart your lessons and values. The more often these come up organically as part of a mutually enjoyable conversation, the better the chances are that those little nuggets of information will really sink in.
Music is how my mom got through to me and I’m grateful that I had such an amazing teacher. I hope that I am able to use the same template to serve my daughter as she learns, develops, and grows, whatever her “thing” may be.