Saturday, October 1, 2011

Listening and learning: The music edition

My kids sometimes grumble that I do not listen to them. Sometimes they are correct. I don't. My mind usually has a bunch of things running across it at one time. I regard my mind like an intricate set of train tracks, intersecting, splitting off, some shorter in length, some not. I'm usually dealing with trying to remember to call someone, filling out a paper, jotting down that one item I seem to always forget when getting groceries, what after school event(s) is scheduled for the day and at what time(s)--these are aspects of my life as a parent of three. Then there is the writer side, the ideas that pop into my mind throughout the day, a line I want to add into one of the many manuscripts I have in various forms of completion, a picture I want to keep and file with a specific story. This life too, has a lot to deal with, but before I digress any further, I'm blogging today about listening and learning.

Growing up, my mom never really cared or showed interest in any of the music I listened to and believe me, living within a train ride or car ride (when I could get one) to Manhattan, I trekked down from the Bronx to see a concert or buy records. I frequented Tower Records like some girls rabidly visited clothings stores (like Mandees or some local corner boutique). I had to go at least once a week, preferably on the day new music was released. If I couldn't wait to go downtown, I'd head over to my local small music store, Broadway Records, a place where I always purchased my concert tickets. Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, the Ritz, my beloved Beacon Theatre, and even the Meadowlands (what the Convention Center used to be called) in New Jersey, as a teen and young adult, these were my favorite venues to go to. There were other places I also went to, though not as frequently. As a teen in the 80s, we didn't have the abundance of TV channels (we had MTV back when they actually played music videos), or the internet, or satellite radio, digital music or players. We had records (lp's and 45s) and cassette tapes, radio stations (like WLIR, WNEW and WPLJ in NY), word-of-mouth, and live performances. That's how we were turned onto new music.

So what does this have to do with listening and learning? As a mom, I never want to be the type of person who instantly dismisses something without listening to it first. I may not always hear my kids when they say something and I'll ask them to repeat it. When it comes to music I want to be open and I have been. When they were younger, I listened to my fair share of songs by Barney, Sesame Street, Nick Jr. characters of the day (yes, that means you, Steve and your dog named Blue), and the Disney actor/singer of the month/year. I've liked some (Hilary Duff, Demi Lovato) and didn't care for others which shall remain nameless. My little guy, the youngest, is into different types of music: soundtracks from favorite video games (Zelda, Mario, a lot of the Nintendo crew) and his favorite right now is a talking/singing cat named N2. 

For most of this year I have to admit my oldest has gotten me into Eminem, Novi Novak and Kid Cudi. I really like Skylar Gray's voice after hearing her sing with Eminem. This is music I wouldn't normally listen to on my own and I'm impressed. And I've done my share of turning my brood onto some of my favorites as well--Shinedown, Imogen Heap, J.R. Richards, David Usher, Sia, and Journey (wayyyy before loving Steve Perry became the norm thanks to Glee). I'm glad when I do listen to my kids, I get to learn something new. I'm introduced to an artist/musician while I share some time watching a video or hearing a song my kids want me to hear. It's amazing to watch my kids get so excited, passionate, and outspoken about their favorites, and then to hear them hum or sing or play a song on the piano. I also get to learn something about my kids as people. And that's priceless. The concert/record buying girl in me is loving it.

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