Friday, April 18, 2008

heard it from a friend who...

There are certain trademarked music classes for children out there – if you are a parent of a young child you likely know what I'm talking about. They are the ones where parents participate and a REALLY HAPPY teacher sings and doo-doots continually, sometimes a capella, sometimes along with recorded music. And children get a chance to “explore” instruments for about 30 seconds before we say “bye-bye, instruments” and practice putting them away again and begin to sing some infernal ditty, each transition - to a standing dance, to a lap clap play, to whatever else, come up so quickly and suddenly it feels like channel surfing between “Soul Train” and some kind of Walt Disney marathon.

People swear by these classes; there is talk about brain development and music's pivotal role; there is a lot of smiling.

Yesterday, there was a free trial class of one of these puppies. I heard it from a friend who had been going and liked it alot. Isaac and I had nothing better to do in the afternoon and I hadn't been to something like this since he was an infant and surely they were different for this age and sure, I'll come.

We got there more than fashionably late. The remaining 20 minutes of the class were the longest 20 freaking minutes I can recall in this lifetime. If I ever, EVER, mention the IDEA of POSSIBLY attending one of these flipping things again EVER, and if you care about me or my child at all, you will rush to where I live and tie me to a towering redwood with steel cable.

Can I just mention that if I get the bug up my butt to flap around the room clucking like a chicken, I'm perfectly content to do so in the privacy of my own living room without the leadership of a paid professional? Can I also mention that as we entered the room where synapses were audibly snapping into place for the adults marching high-kneed in a circle exuding disingenuous joy while several children made a play fort under a folding table, that my son gripped my arm with something like the fright one might feel when chased by demons made terrible in our dreams?

I know it's just the craziest thing, but whenever possible, I take my son to music ... in the real world. We are exploring things with Isaac. He hates theaters – the dark, the crowd, so we find outdoor venues or other places we can come and go from. So far, he enjoys harmonies, people singing live in front of him without too much loud music accompanying. At one recent festival, he sat all the way through a gospel session.

I have to say, as unhappy and unidentified with the Christian tradition as I am, I adore gospel. I'm a sucker for a great voice and damn if people singing gospel don't feel the passion in what they are sharing. Afterwards, one of the singers asked Isaac if next time he'd come up and sing with them on stage. My son, who speaks to no one he doesn't know for less than a day, who has yet to answer the favorite stranger question “What's your name?” straightened up, smiled at her and said, “When I get bigger!”

I'd like to think that teaching my child what authentic interaction looks like trumps letting him play with disinfected cymbals for half a minute once a week.

Maybe I just have a wee problem with people telling me what to do and how to feel about it, and with selling the like to my son. Maybe the idea is to move and do what you feel when and if you feel it – to find music you emotionally connect with – to, dare I say it again, find the company of others you emotionally connect with.

The other day, I was working in a café where they were blasting the most ridiculous line up of horrible 80s music – REO Speedwagon, Journey, Billy Idol, some Fleetwood Mac thrown in. God, I loved it. I felt like I was flying sitting there in front of my laptop. My head started bobbing involuntarily. I could barely keep from singing. I glanced over at the business woman in the celery-colored camisole and black eye-liner at the table next to me, who was flipping through important looking folders while the men with her in their onyx-shiny shoes spoke seriously clunking their heavy watches down as they gestured. And I noticed, is she? yes, I think so! She was mouthing the words. Home is where you find it.

...they say you got a boy-friend
and you're out late every week-end...


Barbara said...

I love gospel, too. It's irresistable.

Dianne said...

you make me laugh - I love how irreverent you are to yourself!!

I'm as detached from organized religion as you can be without being a member of Lucifer's army BUT man do I love gospel. It is a celebration of joy and struggle and the ones who are really good at it have such huge personalities.

Do you have a House of Blues near you? they have a 'Gospel Brunch' once every couple of months. It is amazing. Incredible home cooking - including lots of veggie stuff :)
and they get the best gospel groups. I've gone several times in Atlantic City. Once I was singing along so enthusiastically that they gave me a mic.

Check it out

Glory Be!! ;)

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