Sunday, December 2, 2007

Music, Together

Today is one of those quintessential winter Sundays in Portland. To be precise, rain, rain, followed by wind and more rain. Yesterday we ran all of our weekend errands and now it's noon and we are still in our pajamas. Joaquin's taking a morning nap. This kid loves to nurse to sleep, holding my hands. It's a very warm and cozy feeling for such a cold miserable out-of-doors day.

Last night we headed out to It's A Beautiful Pizza to see our friends play in their band, The Sons of Bernard (otherwise known as the SOBs). I love taking Joaquin to see live music, if it isn't too loud, and the SOBs were wonderful. Lots of 60's and 70's covers from names you've probably heard before and some you might not have. (Van Morrison, Neil Young, the Grateful Dead... as well as a lot of stuff I was pleasantly unfamiliar with) No covers of "Brown Eyed Girl" or "Casey Jones" or any of the typical cover-band stuff, most of the songs played last night were not hits off the classic rock station. And they were all well-delivered, the band was tight and the harmonies were wonderful. Guest musicians featured a gentleman on flute and then saxophone and a fellow playing a mean fiddle. We loved it.

I'm not sure what Joaquin likes the most, but I have a feeling it was being in a sea of new sounds and new, smiling faces. This kid really likes a crowd, especially one that makes big happy faces at him and loves to coo over him. As his parent, I feel fortunate to know so many genuinely nice people. And it was great to reconnect last night with some folks I literally hadn't seen in years. Good folk gather to support their friends and last night, with the music area packed, it really showed.

As someone who has done hard time working for years at a record store, music is something I hope Joaquin develops an appreciative ear for. I never played an instrument, but love to sing. Joe played flute in school. And we both like a wide variety of artists. Around the house, I'm especially partial to old-school jazz like jump, stride, trad and bebob and swing; or rock and pop, but could never confine myself to one or two genres. Joe loves ambient music, garage rock from the 60's and beyond, and so much more. Joaquin's first concert was seeing Patti Smith at the Bite this August. When Patti's teenage son got onstage and played guitar with Lenny and the band, all I could hope for was that perhaps we as a family will continue to enjoy music together when Joaquin is older. And after laughingly admitting to each other a few days ago that "Mary J Blige is really good...I kinda like her!", I think Joe and I are up to the task of being parents that keep an open mind about new music.

Speaking of Music Together, we were fortunate enough to be gifted with two Music Together cd's from former client Susan. Her children listened to them and have probably outgrown them in favor of something a little more sophisticated. (If anyone has invented "Pirate Rock" or "Hamster Love Songs" I'm sure that Max and Emma are all over that, respectively.) If you are unfamiliar with Music Together, they are wonderful music classes that focus on creating, recalling and changing rhythm patterns, singing, and in my opinion, developing a child's ear for all sorts of music. The rhythms and music explored on the cds are sophisticated, and the music has obviously been created and chosen by folks who have a well-developed ear and true love for music. I love that the cd's treat the children as people: the voices on a MT disc aren't the cloying, high-pitched homogenized voices one all-to-often finds on kid cds. Rather, they are trained, 'real' voices that sound more like a campfire song circle than a Disney show. In a world of very affected little teenybopper performers all sounding like each other, it's important for children to hear the real voices of children, adults and older adults to form a realistic impression and assessment of what it is to sing. I also like that the songs are about things relevant to children, like hiding and rolling and jumping. There's a certain joy in this kids music that love songs and opera (however cultured and exciting it may be) and rock-n-roll just can't deliver. It's genuine and simple and I love it.

I'm sure the little guy's naptime is almost over, and anyways, I'm hungry for a bowl of that soup I made a couple days ago. Ah, yes, music and soup and bread and naps and hugs and cribbage (and later, I'm sure, a beer) on a cold late-autumn day. Throw in a Miss Marple mystery on dvd, and you have perfection.

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