Friday, March 2, 2012

Long playing...

(Here's a pic from last summer; notice the appreciative audience.)

So I had some further thoughts about the boy and his music, and more specifically about his listening habits lately.

He is absolutely obsessed with Vivaldi and can't seem to get enough of him. He bought a CD of The Four Seasons, and has commandeered my old CDs of the mandolin and lute concertos. (Frankly, I thought I'd get a little more mileage out of those--that he'd be impressed that I bought them many years ago, before he was born, even before I moved to California. However, sad to say, I am still not cool.)

For a little bit I was worried about this obsessive behavior, about him listening to the same thing again and again and again, playing one CD while he was getting ready for school in the morning and falling asleep at night and surfing the web. Isn't this bad for him? Isn't this a bit much? Should I intervene and encourage him to mix it up a bit?

And then I thought about my own listening habits when I was a teenager. When I bought a new album I'd play it again and again, just like he's doing. (My tastes ran more to The Beatles' Rubber Soul, and ELO, and later The Cure and U2. During weekends at my Dad's we played his copy of Jesus Christ Superstar so many times I'm surprised we didn't wear it out! To this day, I could probably sing you every dang word in that libretto.)

As I grew into my teenage years, music became a form of solace. I'd play those records again and again so that I could become one with that music, so that I knew what note came next, what lyric, what sound and I could just be IN that music, dissolve my edges and step out of time and be sound. For the time that I played that record, I could connect with some larger force and know that life was not just about the things that were bugging me, or the things that made me sad or confused. It was a healing experience, I think.

Yeah, I think it's okay. He'll be just fine.

(Looks like a nice enough place for a nap!)

Here's one big difference: the boy is discovering the healing of music on another, more complex level than I did. When we went to a sheet music store in Columbus a few weeks ago to pick up his material for his lessons, he asked if he could also get the sheet music for The Four Seasons. How could I say no?

(Room's a mess, but dang it, Vivaldi is ready to go!)

And so he is learning to play his favorite piece of music on his violin, putting into muscle memory the finger movements needed to produce those notes, and hearing the other parts even as he learns his. Even when the CD isn't playing and his violin is put away, he's moving his left hand next to his shoulder to make the notes, hearing them in his head and sometimes humming them. He's laying down pathways in his brain that, years from now, will still carry some memory of what this music meant to him at age 13, as he embarked on adolescence. Wow.

May you enjoy some music today!



  1. Hey Karen, This really awesome! Way to go Dexter and Karen.

  2. Very timely :-) Catching that Underground 80's show made me dig up a lot of stuff I haven't listened to in years. Thanks to youtube I found a recording of The Bluebells "South Atlantic Way," a song protesting the Falklands War, which was on an LP that was never released as a CD and I'd only taped (yes, cassette) from a friend. It still sounded great & I remembered every word :-)