A recent scene at Casa Spohr:
INT. LIVING ROOM – DAY
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.
THAT. WAS. IT.
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.
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.
Backpacking Dad says:
“Always on my mind” and “Cracklin’ Rose” are all that you need for a complete muscial education.
Tomorrow I’m busting out my Willie.
Because as of right now the only music Erin is familiar with is that Barenaked Ladies album and the themes from Jeopardy and Scrubs.
Ah, music. I love music. It’s healing, I think. And really empowering. And I feel very strongly about exposing kids to music at a young age – and encouraging (not forcing!) them to learn an instrument/voice. It teaches a lot of dedication, a sense of teamwork (most instruments work better with others!) and responsibility.
We spent a lot of time exposing our kids to our music, hoping to stave off things like Barney tapes, NKOTB, and other pieces of parent torture. How can you NOT groove to the opening of Day Tripper?
Middle-Aged-Womans last blog post..Sunday Jobs
My condolences on the lack of music growing up. I was schooled early on in Motown by my mom’s 45 collection (some of you may have to Google what a 45 is.) I’m thinking one of those songs should make it into the blog at some point too.
Jims last blog post..The Curse of the Crapmobile
Ms. Moon says:
My youngest daughter had a fairly severe reading disability which, with the help of some very talented teachers and her own amazing spirit, she has overcome. She’s in college now and doing VERY well and I think that another part of what really helped her (and I’m just guessing) is that when she went to bed every night as a child and up through high school, she left the radio on the local classical station. There was always a lot of music in our house but I honestly think that all those sonatas and symphonies that were the background music of her dreams had something to do with her ability to overcome her disability.
She is also quite the musician in her own right now. She is one of those people who can pick up almost any instrument and play it, although the mandolin is her instrument of choice.
Ms. Moons last blog post..Quote Of The Day
That does seem pretty odd that those two were your only musical choices given your parents’ backgrounds. And I think those 2 might’ve been enough to turn me off to music for good! (no offense ND and WN fans!) We played all the children’s & classical music for my kids when they were little, but I have to say I am much happier now that they like to listen to our music. Both of our girls have very diverse musical tastes, which is nice b/c it leads to less fighting over the radio.)
Dude- if Maddie can hold a tambourine, you guys could go on the road as the partridge family 2.0.
My mom was in a band in the 70’s (In israel) – she played the guitar and traveled europe. It was a very hippy-esque band, but nonetheless trying to imagine my mom in a leather jacket just doesnt sit well.
mayas last blog post..Weird Products from Across the Web: Volume 1
Yes, it sad that your exposure to music was some what limited as a child – and also odd given all the of music in your famliy –
One of my favorite quotes:
Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.
Hey, at least Willie Nelson and Neil Diamond kick ass. (My parents listened to Tom T. Hall and The Dueling Banjos Soundtrack)
Jamies last blog post..I lost this battle, but the war will rage on –
Your parents may not have had much influence on your musical tastes, but no one can deny the musical genius of “Sweet Caroline”!! You just can’t!
My dad is NEVER without an instrument of some sort. Even if he’s on his motorcycle he’s got his harmonica in his pocket. So I grew up with a dad who was always playing something. Maddie will love all your musical fun as she grows!
HeatherPrides last blog post..It’s Not Easy Being Green
I don’t remember any music played by my parents during my childhood. We weren’t a musical family. Our son, on the other hand, has been exposed to everything from punk to hip hop to R&B to gangsta rap to rock music. Oh, and cartoon theme music. I think he’s already got rhythm at two and a half than I do at 29 plus four.
VegasDads last blog post..wake up
Daddy Dan says:
We didn’t have much exposure to music growing up either. My parents had an 8-track too, and they only had two tapes, Kenny Rogers and The Carpenters. It’s so weird, that even today, my parents don’t listen to the radio in the car or at home.
My wife and I both love music and have exposed Babito to it daily. He loves to dance and sing.
Daddy Dans last blog post..Weekend Update
I like the part where you are trying in vain to clap to the music on the television-haha! I’ll never forget the time Elizabeth starting bobbing her head to the music on the radio. Unfortunately it wasn’t to something cool like The Beatles. I had the radio on “scan” and when it came to the country station she got a big smile on her face and began bobbing. Needless to say I spent the next 5 minutes trying to get her to dance to something I approved of.
Rachels last blog post..First Date
your great grandpa is hot. heh.
Mike I swear your family gets more and more interesting every time I read a post. That’s cool that you know so much about your family’s background. And yes, definitely wait until the tummy has settled to do any major dancing/jostling with Maddie – my husband was tossing our youngest up the air shortly after he ate, and…um..well, I’m sure you get the picture.
Leslies last blog post..Chow Hounds
wow- you actually have the mythical albino bowler?!! I need proof- please take a picture of you holding it. good bye.
mayas last blog post..Weird Products from Across the Web: Volume 1
Très drole!! Okay, that’s a hoot. Little Miss absolutely went nuts over anything folk and now her favorite band is… drum roll please: The Beatles. She’s 10.
Keep it going for Maddie
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Andrea's Sweet Life says:
If it makes you feel any better, we listened to music ALL THE TIME growing up, and I still can’t dance. I have no rhythm whatsoever, although I pretend I do when I’ve been drinking.
Maybe your parents just didn’t have that passion for music. I think its great to expose kids to music, all kinds of music, nursery rhymes, classical, The Beatles, even a little Willie Nelson. All of it. My parents always had music on when I was growing up, of course it was bands like America, The Who, ABBA, and Crosby, Stills and Nash, but hey… that’s the music that brings me back to my childhood now. If anything exposing your daughter to music now will just make her think of good memories of her Dad whenever she flips on the oldies station and hears a little Dave Matthews.
Kristins last blog post..Life is a highway…
We love music here. My 7 year old has Ozzy on her I Pod Shuffle. I kid you not. She and my son know “Crazy Train” the minute they hear it on the radio. And they think “Fat Bottom Girl” by Queen is a rocking good song. Oy.
I grew up listening to all kinds of music with my parents, and I know my husband listened to loads of music too. I am the musician in our family though; classically trained flutist. I can play the piano too and we have one right behind me. I don’t play it well though.
Anyway, I digress. I hope that my kids will continue grow to love music as much as we do.
Yes, always wait a bit before dancing after eating. It’s like the “not going into the water for 30 minutes after eating” rule.
Kristins last blog post..Free time. Now what?
Jennifer, Playgroups are no place for children says:
That is WEIRD! At least my parents have an excuse, having ZERO musical pedigree to speak of. Maddie’s destined for Julliard!
Jennifer, Playgroups are no place for childrens last blog post..The triumphant return of hump day
Redneck Mommy says:
My parents are in no way musically inclined. They kept the radio on at all hours just to listen to the farm report.
Yet both of my siblings are both gifted musically while I can’t carry a note.
I make up for this by listening to as much music as possible…all varieties and trying to convince my children that Hannah Montana isn’t really music. Just noise.
They don’t believe me yet. But then when my parents said the same thing about Milli Vanilli I didn’t believe them either.
Redneck Mommys last blog post..I Suck
Now, now. Let’s not discount the importance of Sweet Caroline.
A Free Man says:
Since my partner got pregnant, this has been a quest with me – making sure the boy is exposed to music, particularly good music. Making sure he’s got toy instruments to play with. Taking the time to share music with him. I don’t know if he’s going to be a musician or even an appreciator of music, but he’s going to have every opportunity. Best thing about it is that we get the time together.
Raging Dad says:
Dude, don’t be knockin’ on Willie. You could pick up any and all of his records from between 1973 and 1978 and find only gold. Brilliant stuff.
Beatles are excellent for our kids. They have developed a pretty broad taste for music, which is pretty cool.
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