Six Children and No Theories

Covering parenting and child development issues

Musical Expression

Written by Lisa Lawmaster Hess, Community Blogger | Jun 21, 2013 11:13 AM

"Musick has Charms to sooth a savage Breast,
To soften Rocks, or bend a knotted Oak."  (William Congreve)

I like working in a quiet house. My husband and daughter? Not so much.

Thanks to iPhones and iPods and iPads, my daughter has music in hand (literally) during most of her waking hours. Since her waking hours and my waking hours overlap, that means there is most likely some version of some song playing somewhere when I am trying to concentrate.

And the music is not soothing my savage anything. Quite the contrary.

So why don't I just tell her to turn it off? I am the parent, after all, and ostensibly in charge.

Well, sometimes I do. But I've also discovered that music is a window into her world, one I am hesitant to close.

The ubiquity of her music means that we have lots of impromptu conversations about the elements of music -- the songwriters, the lyrics, the recording artists -- and the things that touch her as a listener. Though our tastes are vastly different, they sometimes converge, as they did when she worked on her decades project for school or when her radio surfing lands on a station playing a song we both like.

We've had many conversations about what makes a song appealing or unappealing, and though we're sometimes on different sides of the issue, we've been doing this long enough that these discussions are an exchange of opinions -- at least as long as I keep my judgmental statements to myself and focus on talking to her listener to listener, not parent to child. 

I've learned a lot about my daughter by gritting my teeth and relinquishing control of my car radio, and sharing the music we like has expanded both of our horizons. As she looks ahead to college, she's considering a career that somehow incorporates music, and I like to think that the presence of both the music she invites and the music she absorbs has contributed to that in some way. 

And so as I sit tucked away in a back room of my house, typing this blog out of earshot of the music playing in my daughter's bedroom, I'm sure this relocation is a small price to pay for a lifetime love of such a beautiful influence. Admittedly, I don't always feel this way, but as often as I can, I try to keep the big picture in mind. A few minutes of Bruno Mars is a small price to pay for a conversation that sparks self-confidence, self-expression and critical and creative thinking.

And depending on the song, I might just sing along.

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Comments: 1

  • claudzilla5 img 2013-07-11 09:27

    My mom used to be wary of my musical choices, when I was young. She distrusted pop music, seeing it as far removed from her more religious roots. I respect her views, but do wish we had been able to have more conversations about what I liked about the music I heard.
    Me, I am blasting my punk rock favorites for my kids, who now will request The Clash as often as the kids' music CDs that share the stereo. We talk about what the songs are about, why that man sounds so angry, and where they are from, since they sing with strong accents. You're right - the conversations range all over, and we all learn a lot.

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