A recent scene at Casa Spohr:


Mike watches a music special with his father at his side.

Dad: “I read an article the other day that said playing music to your babies helps them have a good sense of rhythm as adults!”

Mike: “Hmm. I guess that explains my lack of rhythm then.”

Mike’s Dad frowns but doesn’t press the issue any further as Mike tries in vain to clap in time to the music.

Growing up music was not part of our home. My parents each only had one album – scratch that – one 8-track (!). Mom’s was Neil Diamond’s Greatest Hits and Dad’s was a Willie Nelson album.


And it wasn’t like we listened to these albums all the time – it was only occassionally when we were on a long car trip.  


You may be thinking, “So what? Big deal! Many families aren’t musical or into music!” And you’d be right. But the lack of music in my family is weird for a few reasons:

1. My mother’s father made his living as a professional musician. In fact, the reason my grandparents moved to America from Portugal in the early 20th century was because he was offered a job playing in Paul Whiteman’s band.

This fatso was me Granddads' boss!

For those not fluent on the musical stars of the early 20th Century (pretty much all of us) Paul Whiteman was very famous. So basically my grandfather emigrated to the States to join the modern equivelant of…oh, I don’t know…The Dave Mathews Band.

2. My mother’s college degree was in…wait for it…MUSIC!!! She was known as something of a piano prodigy growing up in San Diego (we have a number of yellowing newspaper articles in our attic about her exploits tinkling the ivories), and is one of the rare people who can play by ear. That means if she hears a song she can sit at the piano and play it after only a couple seconds of thought. Most people need the music to play, but not her.

3. My father’s last name is SPOHR. If you “Google” it, or more specifically, “Louis Spohr,” you will find that Louis Spohr was one of the most important classical composers ever, and is best known for being the first person to use a baton while conducting. I always like to imagine he was eating dinner at a Chinese restaurant…you know, one of the many in 18th century Germany…when he realized he was late to conduct. So he jumped up and raced to the concert hall without realizing he still was holding his chopsticks. Then, when he took to the podium, he raised the chopsticks and the rest is history! What? You’re not laughing? Oh well. When I thought of that story as a nine-year-old it amused me greatly. Anyhoo…we are supposedly related to this guy (the genealogy has been explored). Meet my great x6 Grandpa!


So, hearing that, it’s weird that the entiretity of the musical education my parents supplied was “On The Road Again” and “Sweet Caroline,” right?

The music gene must be there though, because, despite the apathy to music in my house growing up I am obsessed with music (the cost of my CD collection alone could have paid for Maddie’s college education), and have taught myself to sing, play guitar and bass, as well as a little piano. I’ve also written a hundred or so songs, and, if I do say so myself, some are pretty good. Maybe not good enough to be put on a U2 album (or even a U3 or U4 album), but pretty good. I can’t help but wonder if music might have played a larger role in my life if I was exposed to it more growing up. MAYBE…had I heard more music growing up…I would be a musician. Or not. I’m certainly not as cute as Justin Timberlake, and my lack of rhythm definitely hinders my dancing ability. 

Anyhoo…Heather is very musical as well as a great singer, so Maddie does come from musical stock. My hope is that we give Maddie enough musical background so that if she does have an aptitude for it we will set her up to succeed. It’s a fine line though…my mother only played piano, it seems, to impress her Dad, and, even though she had great talent, she really wasn’t very into it. So I don’t want to force Maddie into anything she doesn’t want to do.


Today “Day Tripper” by the Beatles was playing and she kicked her feet with joy, so I picked her up and started dancing around with her. She went nuts – giggling and squealing like I’ve never heard. It was a wonderful moment…until she spit up all over me. Next time I will schedule the dancing for at least a half hour after her most recent feeding.