Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Ups and Downs of Music

My kid is seriously getting into music. She joined the choir, and she discovered iTunes.

We are thrilled about both things. Seeing her in that group of little kids, all singing away, is great. However, as much as I'd like to think I've birthed the next Adele, my kid can't sing. She is tone deaf. Her pitch has Ceased to Be, if it ever lived at all.

Still, it's all good. We wear earmuffs to church and smile and nod.

Now, about the iTunes thing: my husband and I are huge music lovers. We used to go to concerts all the  time, in the era Before Kid. Back in the day, I'd throw on my ripped jeans and safety pins and go and see Iggy Pop, or  the Ramones, or David Bowie. For Hub, the band of choice was always E-Street. Bruuuuuuuuuuce!

So, I'm happy to listen to real, adult music with my child. She loves Beyonce, and Katy Perry, and Lady Gaga, so our music tastes don't quite mesh, but again: it's all good.

The problem comes when I actually listened to the  lyrics of some of the songs out there. In fact, some of the bubble gummiest, poppiest songs are all about drinking and going to parties way after hours and having a menage a trois while you're at it. I'm looking at you, Ke$ha.

Now, I'm not a hater, hatin on Ke$ha. Obviously it's working for her. However, it's a tough choice to make: Allow kid to listen to that song or Don't allow. My daughter, after all, is only in second grade!

So, should I tell her, There's no way you're going to listen to that noise? or do I let her listen to only the clean versions? And what, exactly, is the clean version of a song called "Promiscuous?"

The choice should seem simple: protect my kid at all costs. Here's the thing though. When I was in seventh grade, my parents listened to nothing but classical music. (That's not quite true, we did have that one Simon and Garfunkel album from Mom's beatnik phase.)

As a result, I listened to nothing but classical music. And, one day, in Music class, the cool music teacher handed out crossword puzzles all about rock musicians and songs by Led Zeppelin, Lynyrd Skynyrd....

I didn't know the answer to a single clue. Not one. I turned in a blank paper. And I've never forgotten that.

So, I'd like her to be able to listen to music, the  kind her friends all seem to have on their iPods. I've insisted on a few rules: Stick with the clean versions, stay away from songs that glorify abusive behavior, and approach everything with a sensible point of view.

My daughter asked me, after I had to ban a certain song from her playlist, "Mommy, why do so many songs have bad words in them?"

"I don't know, sweetie," I  replied. "I just don't know."

5 comments:

Johanna Garth said...

This touches close to home! I let my kids listen to the music of their choice and we talk about the words after their done. It's not always a popular position but my thoughts are that they live in this world so it's important for them to understand what they hear and why it is or is not appropriate.

Alison said...

Exactly! I can't put her in a bubble for ever. But at the same time, she simply can't start to use some of the language that routinely appears in popular music. Oh, the trials of modern motherhood!

Ella Gray said...

Well, since I don't have kids, I can't pretend to be the expert on this. But it always seems like the more parents try to influence a child to NOT do something, that's the thing the kid ends up wanting to do the most, LOL.

Good luck, Alison! BTW - I love the Ramones, too :-)

Teresa Cypher aka T K CypherBuss said...

I must be old. I know...anyone reading this just groaned at my opening words. :-) My oldest is 31, youngest 25. We were tough on them. And you know, they listened to it when they were with their friends. We knew that. We had no control over that. And we would not have tried to control that. It is the nature of young humans to fit in, and if fitting in meant listening to content that I cringed at calling "music" (but concede it IS artistic expression), it was done away from home. And for a brief time when the freedom of young adulthood possessed their souls--and they could pay for their own music, they listened to stuff that I had hard time listening to if I went somewhere with them in their vehicle. But after that time, they came full circle and moved well beyond songs that disrespect women or are laced with vulgarity and the f-bomb. I guess what I am trying to say is if you allow your children to listen to the r or x rated versions, I really think there is an unspoken message being given--that it is okay, it is acceptable-- the messages in the lyrics. Alison, I hear you--my parents listened to either classical (mostly my dad) and the Magic Organ. The Magic Organ! Honest to god. I swear, anyone walking back our farm lane on a Saturday night, thought that we had a rollersaking rink back there in the barn! But I turned out okay, and my children turned out okay. Parents ultimately choose what to censor. And I agree that there is age appropriate allowances taken into consideration, but if you do choose to allow the uncensored version, talk to your kids, and make sure they know that the messages can be skewed, and some things are just wrong, whether or not music artists glorify them in their songs.

Teresa Cypher aka T K CypherBuss said...

And, lol, what I came here to post...I mentioned and linked you, your book, and your blog, to a sweet blog award on my blog. (Blog. The word "blog" three times in that sentence. My brain is fried :-) I know, we are all busy. It took me several weeks to do it. And I am not offended when someone doesn't want to participate. I just wanted to be sure you knew that you were included :-)