- Arts & Entertainment
- Health & Lifestyle
- Bits & Bytes
- Events calendar
Music: The Great Emotional Translator
It’s Festival Season! For the fourth year in a row, we are packing up the truck and heading to Starbelly, a child-friendly music festival in Crawford Bay. The packing list is eclectic and extensive. In addition to the usual: devil sticks, hula hoop, festival shirts, hats, and skirts (they are largely inappropriate for any other occasion but we keep buying ‘em every year anyway), harmonica, glow sticks, stilts, and bongo drums, there is climbing gear and bicycles and boogie boards. And bug shirts. Unfortunately, the mosquitoes in Crawford Bay are so robust and numerous that any child under ten pounds is at risk of physical abduction: “Honey, come quick, the mosquitoes took the baby.”
By the time we arrive back home, we will be ready to head down to the Wapiti grounds without unpacking.
Most people know of the Mozart effect: if your kids listen to Mozart they will be smarter. But how about AC/DC, Shred Kelly, the Born Ruffians? I am afraid not. The whole Mozart thing is getting de bunked as well. However, if it applies, listening to most types of music does help with ADD. McMaster University has taken the lead on kids, music, and performance research and if you really want your kids to score higher on math and literature they have to play. That’s right, participatory effort is required. Just like fat kids don’t get fit watching tennis. I was saddened to read this because so far my children have not shown much interest in playing music.
When I picked up my violin after many years, I also bought a very cute 1/8 violin for my son. He quickly bestowed it on his sister. She loves to take it out and show her friends. It’s like a decorative doll. She removes it from its velvet case, takes out the bow, demonstrates where the bow is to be placed on the strings and runs off to play on the monkey bars. I was hoping we might play together but so far that hasn’t happened. Joshua Bell, a professional violinist, was playing rubber bands that he attached to the knobs of his dresser drawers and pulled them out to varying lengths to alter the pitch at the age of three. Shortly after observing this obsessive behaviour, his parents bought him a violin. He never looked back.
If your child is drawn to music, encourage it; otherwise, is there any point? Yes! Because music makes us happy. And who wouldn’t rather have a happy child than a smart one anyway. Or a happy parent. Have you ever noticed how the day quickly goes to hell in a hand basket when you don’t have the energy to keep things positive? As the saying goes: “If Momma (or Papa) ain’t happy, ain’t no one going to be happy.” A two-day music festival immersion might be just what it takes to keep you hummin’ through to September.
Because music is a great emotional translator, it is a wonderful environment in which to hang with your kids. A particular song on the radio can result in an impressive flood of memories, many of them with significant emotional weight. My son may not be a budding musician but he can’t wait to get back to Starbelly. He can’t wait to get back to the memory of it: emotional happiness. I guess in the past people might have called it quality time. Not that I am a believer in quality time. I’m a believer in quantity time and, allowing myself a respectable number of falls off the parental wagon, hopefully some of it will turn out to be of reasonable quality.
If you read political scientist Robert Putnam kids who succeed are getting both: large quantities of quality time. And apparently, in the US, a huge gap is developing between those who are getting it and those who are not. Equality of opportunity, that is, the opportunity for all children to succeed regardless of class, race, or poverty is about to take a nose dive because of something he calls “the goodnight moon effect.” It refers to the amount of time parents spend engaging their children. Not simply being in the same room but talking, reading, dancing, fixing, cooking, gardening etc. with their children. Parents who spend more time engaging their kids have greater social mobility: They are more likely to get to where they want to be in life. Of course, not everyone has equal opportunity to this time commitment. Sometimes it has to be outsourced, which is fine, provided the people to which you bestow this very important job are able to do so.
Alternatively, load up the carriage and head out to the next music festival. Spend some time listening to some local tune makers. Don’t worry...be happy.