Music. It’s always been part of my life, from my youngest years when my mom sat at the piano and sang songs with me: Somebody’s eating all the crumbs. Somebody’s eating all the crumbs! Oh blackbird, don’t be so greedy, somebody’s eating all the crumbs …).
Then there was storytime at the library with Mrs. Graves and more singing, and Sunday school with “Only a Boy Named David” and so many, many more … Kindergarten class where we sweated along with Mrs. Wintin to “Go You Chicken Fat, Go!” There was a piano in the kindergarten room, and she’d frequently play for us to sing. Does this happen in kindergarten classrooms today, or are we so eager to teach pre-algebra to 5 year olds that there is no time to sing?
Every Saturday night, Lawrence Welk on the TV. I remember being so amazed because my mom could identify apparently every song sang on that show, within the first phrase. How did she do that?
Now, I am experiencing the same thing as a piano teacher: I’m the knowledgeable old fogey who recognizes all these strange melodies! My student and I will turn the page to the next piece, and I’ll say, “Oh, you know this,” and I play a few lines, only to be met with a blank stare. What? How can you not at least be familiar with The Brave Old Duke of York or Beethoven’s Ode to Joy??? I’ll admit that, happily, I think everyone to this point has had a moment of recognition on the Eine Kleine Nachtmusic theme, so it must be pretty ubiquitous in the culture. And I guess I can understand the Muslim girl not knowing Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho, but it doesn’t seem to ring a bell with even most of my Jewish and Christian kids.
Kids today do still know the popular music of the day. Often they play those songs in lessons, since I’m such a nice piano teacher who wants them to enjoy their lessons and play songs that will encourage them to keep on playing (not easy in a world full of electronics and sports). But as I sing along with the lyrics, sometimes I have to laugh: Do you ever feel, like a plastic bag … I have to stop, narrow my eyes, and ask, “Olivia. Have you ever felt like a plastic bag? Seriously? Because I don’t think I ever have.”
But popular music has always been with us. While I don’t remember listening to much popular music in my teen years, I do remember thoroughly enjoying the “morning show” that high school DJ’s produced in the mornings as we walked to class. Air Supply, Huey Lewis, Chicago, Michael Jackson — good stuff.
How about you? Is there a song you remember fondly from your childhood or teen years?