Sunday, May 25, 2008

The sound of music

It has been a very busy month of May around here, so this will likely be my one and only post this month. Due to lack of time, I debated skipping this entry completely, but something kept nagging at the back of my mind to write it, lest the memory be gone forever...

I am constantly amazed by my kids' love for music. Gabe in particular seems to enjoy it immensely whenever I put music on (which is pretty much all the time), retreating into himself and going off into his own little world. When there is no music playing, Gabe seems to be more clingy and demanding of my attention. But as soon as the tunes start blaring, he can play by himself for what seems like an eternity at his young age.

Both of my children were soothed by music as infants, as I'm sure most babies are. Both began very early on to be able to distinguish and identify some of the various instruments in the songs we would put on, such as drums, piano and trumpet. And both have musical tastes that extend far beyond your traditional children's music, as they often seem to prefer to hear the music that Eddie and I listen to over their own kiddie CDs.

As I bring Gabe down the stairs every morning he demands "Jack! Jack!" for Jack Johnson's latest release "Sleep Through The Static", and when I comply (which I always do!) he proceeds to groove his way through the songs, bobbing his head to the beat with a rhythm we had no idea a child so young could have. In the car, a resounding chant of "Ani!" is yelled out by Nicki before we're even buckled in, as she makes her request for Ani Difranco's 1998 release "Little Plastic Castle", before Gabe can make his choice known. When Gabe does manage to sneak a request in, it's usually for one of our favourite radio stations, 99.9 The Buzz, which touts itself as "the rock alternative" and puts out a varied play list of such artists as Foo Fighters, Disturbed, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nine Inch Nails, Linkin Park and Puddle of Mudd, just to name a few... Gabe will point to the radio and say "Buzz! Buzz!" over and over until we turn it on. We are seriously thinking of sending an audio clip of this to the station, it's just too funny. Ben Harper is another of Nicki's favourites, as she repeatedly asks to hear songs from his "Burn to Shine" album, which was released in 1999. She even brought it with her to preschool one day when the kids were asked to bring in some of their favourite CDs. Probably not what the teachers were expecting I'm sure! And of course any and every Bob Schneider CD (Mommy's personal favourite) is likely to be heard as well, and both kids clap their hands, kick their feet and even sing along. Not quite what you would expect a 3 year old and a 1 year old to enjoy and yet they love it!

Of course this is not to say that they don't listen to their fair share of children's music too. It would seem that our "Dora the Explorer" CD is on constant rotation in the playroom, played so often in fact that both kids instantly know which song is coming up next as soon as the previous song starts. There are actually two other CDs that our kids love and that Eddie and I actually enjoy too. The first is "Dog Train: A Wild Ride on the Rock-and-Roll Side" by children's author Sandra Boynton, which boasts a compilation of diverse and humourous songs done by an eclectic mix of artists such as Blues Traveler, Alison Krauss, The Phenomenauts and even (get this) Weird Al Yankovic. The second is a Sesame Street compilation called "Songs from the Street: 35 Years of Music". Not only do we get to hear all of our favourite characters, such as Ernie, Bert, Grover and Big Bird, we are also graced with the voices of many of the fantastic singers who have performed on Sesame Street in the past, such as James Taylor, Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Johnny Cash and Billy Joel (brining back great memories for Eddie and I) and even those who have made appearances more recently, such as Steven Tyler, Hootie and the Blowfish, Spin Doctors and Goo Goo Dolls.

Growing up in my family, the radio was on from the time we woke up in the morning till the time we went to bed at night. We spent countless hours dancing around the living room, truly having the time of our lives. I can remember my parents spontaneously grabbing each other to dance to a song they particularly liked, even if it was in the middle of doing the dishes. I can remember dancing up a storm to Jose Feliciano with my mother and grandmother in the basement on Christmas Day and have now been blessed with the memory of doing the same with my mother and my own daughter this past year. Music was an important source of happiness in my family and concerts were something we enjoyed going to together. I can still remember my first concert which I attended with my brother and my mother when I was only 8 years old: Whitney Houston. I have lost count of how many concerts I have been to since then but I know that it is a huge amount, as the ticket stubs that I have saved from every single one of those shows are overflowing in a memory box that I keep. It's fun to go through them every now and then and see how much my musical tastes have changed over the past 22 years!

I hope that music can continue to play a huge role in my children's lives as they grow up. I hope that it can continue to be for them all of the same things that it has been for me over the years; a source of joy and happiness, a source of comfort, an outlet for frustration, a way to bond with the other members of my family. And most of all I hope that I never EVER turn into the mom who yells out "Turn off that infernal racket!" when my kids turn their music on full blast. :)