Lucy won an award at her elementary school for the most pages read over a month's period. I am not a big fan of those type of contests—I don't really think it encourages a love of reading, and it turns reading into a competition, which it is not—but Lucy won four free tickets to our local hockey team's last game of the season.
We've never been to a hockey game before. We rarely go to any sporting events due to money and logistics and, on my part, lack of interest. Sam was excited to go, and he took three kids with him, Lucy, Shaemus, and Flannery. Their seats weren't so hot, second to the top row, and they couldn't see very well (hard place to see that tiny puck), but they had a pretty good time. They didn't stay until the end of the game, however, because of the crowds and the noise and, well, it got a little boring.
"Overwhelming," Sam said. "That's what it was." Then he said something I was thinking but not saying. He said, "It's very interesting, how many people go to those hockey games and spend all that money on beer and food and paraphernalia versus how many people attend the symphony."
Sam had just been to the John William's symphony the weekend before with three of our kids. It was the most crowded he'd ever seen that music hall—every seat was full. Most of the time when we attend, it is maybe two-thirds to three-fourths full.
There are obvious conclusions to be drawn here. What do we tell our children is important in this world? There is a place for sports, of course, but there is also a place for music and art and books, etc... How many of our kids are being shut out of these things? How many kids get to go to a symphony at least once a year versus some kind of sporting event?
"It's money," Sam said.
"No, it's not," I said. "Symphony tickets are no more expensive than those hockey tickets."
"No," Sam said. "That's not what I mean. Learning an instrument is way more expensive than playing on a sports team. And you don't have to make your kids practice a sport at home every day."
True. Sam is correct, and learning a musical instrument is not for everyone, but music can be.
Here are some of my kids favorite, favorite collections of music. Some of them come with CDs so you can listen along and sing along and develop a real love for all kinds of music. Because this world we live in, this increasingly coarse, crass world, is not going to hand them great music. We have to do it! We have to be the handers!!! (is that a word?)
I Hear America Singing: Folk Songs for American Families by Kathleen Krull (the accompanying CD to this is awesome—when was the last time you heard, "The Cat Came Back"?)
The Story of the Orchestra by Robert Levine (I love this accompanying CD, and even though it is educational, my kids love to listen to it.)
Can You Hear It? by William Lach (cool combo of art and music)
The Carnival of the Animals by Jack Prelutsky (also great accompanying CD)
Peter and the Wolf by Chris Raschka
The best Peter and the Wolf CD, in our opinion, is this:
And have you heard Beethoven's Wig? There are four volumes of this very funny audio introduction to classical music.
And have you seen this great book?
Lives of the Musicians by Kathleen Krull (hysterical and very interesting)
And finally, how many of you knew that Steve Martin is an amazing Banjoist? Seriously. He is! And he and Edie Brickell just released a new CD that we think is awesome. You could use it as a chance to introduce your kids to someone other than Taylor Swift and Usher. "You know that guy in Father of the Bride? He plays the banjo! He wrote the music for all these songs!"
I spent a long time not listening to music at all when I was a young mom, though I loved it in high school and college. When I realized recently that my kids needed more than just pop and classical—that they needed great music in between—I rediscovered folk and bluegrass and fiddling music, and I feel like my entire being has been elevated as a result. It's awesome! What music makes you feel the same way? Jazz? Rhythm and Blues? Latin? African? Irish? And are you sharing this with your kids?
Read this article about Steve Martin and his banjo here:
And listen to the CD here: