Music Matters

Music has been an integral part of my life since I was very young. My mother and I started fiddling around with harmoniums, bamboo flutes and Spanish guitars before I was ten years old. We started picking out basic song tunes, and my mother taught first herself and then me to read music. Soon after I turned ten, I got my first violin and started music lessons that continued for six years.

Sadly, I play very sporadically now and in recent years – once or twice a week for a few months, and then not at all for months, even years at a stretch. It’s not enough to even maintain any kind of standard, let alone improve. But that’s another story.

I’d always thought that my babies would be exposed to music when they were in the womb. Well, we don’t have any idea whether that ever happened, and surely it would not have been my choice of music, but… they have the rest of their lives to catch up, so I’m not too worried about that. I don’t believe that you’re ever too young to enjoy music, but I also don’t believe that you’re ever too old to start listening to and appreciating music.

While the kids were home full time – and so was I – they got to listen to plenty of music, and none of it was of the nursery rhyme variety. As long as we had WorldSpace, they got a lot of Hindi oldies, in addition to the usual mix of pop/rock and a bit of Western Classical. Then school started and there was no time for anything else! And then! I got a car with a built-in music system. Oh, joy! At last I could have music while driving – and I certainly spent enough time driving to justify it, in those days of dropping and picking up the kids. Unfortunately, though, I didn’t have a 6-CD changer.

I started the kids with the Wombles – child-friendly music that adults could enjoy too. The kids loved it, and wanted it every time we were in the car! To avoid swapping discs all the time, I ended up listening to it even when they weren’t actually in the car with me. And I had to make a copy for Amit, otherwise they refused to go in his car because he didn’t have their favourite songs. In a few months, all four of us knew all the words of all the songs. That’s twenty one songs!

So then it was time for a change.

I ran through an album of Dev Anand and followed it up with an album of Kishore Kumar for a month or two. Then I got bored of Hindi Oldies and I switched back to a Pop/Rock CD.

As it happened, they had recently been gifted a frock that said “Vegas Rock and Roll” in big letters on the front, and the day one of them was wearing that frock for the first time, I happened to play Billy Joel’s “It’s Still Rock and Roll to me.” This coincidental match was too much for them – they were thrilled to bits and wanted that song every day for weeks. Soon I’d got them on to some of the Billy Joel songs that came before and after that. Mrini one day got into Amit’s car and said, “I want Pressure.” She also enjoys, “Doing it all for Leyna” and “I don’t want to be alone anymore,” while, “And so it goes” has become known as “Baba’s song” because they hear Amit singing it so often.

One day I was tripping on Doors (Light My Fire) while driving to work after dropping the kids in school. So it was still on Doors when I went to pick them up in the evening. Mrini listened for about 30 seconds, then said, “Mama, I don’t like this, it’s too noisy.” Whaaaaa!? So Billy Joel is ok, Pressure is good, but Doors is too noisy!?

Next, I have to re-introduce them to Western Classical music. They’d listened to a bit of it when they were too young to have an opinion – or at least too young to express it – but not much since then. Whatever little they have heard recently has bored them – and I can’t really blame them, since I listen to mostly “instrumental” music, not so much the songs. Now I’m wondering, should I try some Mozart operas on them? Don Giovanni? The Magic Flute? Or how about Handel’s Messaiah – is that too heavy? We have a long drive to Mysore coming up, that should be a good time to throw something new at them. Any suggestions, anyone?

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