Brainwashing My Kids: Is it Failing?

Child listening to music
Child listening to music – Kjell-Einar Hargaut Pettersen

A few weeks ago I wrote with tongue firmly planted in cheek bragging about my musical influence over my kids – getting them to listen to good pop music whether they liked it or not.

So when I saw that Paul McCartney was performing at Philips Arena June 21, I immediately thought of my daughters.

I saw Paul perform several years ago at Piedmont Park, and afterwards I could finally say that I had seen a Beatle perform live. But I wanted to share that special moment with my daughters, so even though it was past their bedtime, I asked my mother-in-law to give the kids the phone so they could hear Paul sing “Hey Jude.” One daughter was 7, the other 4. They barely knew what “Hey Jude” was, but by God, they had heard the original Beatle hear it, no matter whether they would remember it.

With the ex-Beatle nearing 75, let’s face it; there are a limited number of times that he will go on any kind of nationwide tour. This could be the one and only time my daughters could see part of the legendary songwriting duo of Lennon and McCartney.

Starting them young

Now the girls are 11 and 9, respectively. The first songs I played for them when they were born were Beatles songs; they know most of the group’s popular songs, including solo songs such as “Live and Let Die,” “Dear Boy” and even some more recent songs as Paul’s “Queenie Eye” from his most recent album New. But when I approached them with the idea – father accompanying daughters to their first concert (and what a first concert it would be!), one said, “Eh, not really,” and the other said, “Shh, I’m reading.”

Yes they’re young. Yes, they have their own tastes and interests. But this is a BEATLE. Ten, maybe 15 years from now when they read my post on why the Beatles are the greatest band ever, when they keep hearing their songs on the radio, they will know what a huge influence the band has been on popular music. And they could tell people that they saw one of them perform live.

It was a disappointing moment.

Who knows? Maybe they will change their mind; maybe the little things that I’m doing – playing pop music for them whenever I can, playing Mozart documentaries on Netflix while they’re playing, making them watch “Footloose” – will eventually lead them toward an appreciation for music, and they’ll dance around when they hear Katrina and the Waves’ “Walking on Sunshine” or weep at the second movement of Beethoven’s “Pathetique” sonata.

Saying this opens me up to dozens of platitudes from friends and family, including the ever popular “Growing up to be responsible, upstanding women is what’s important.” But I’m sharing part of myself, and one of the biggest influences on my life has been music. I grew up listening to my parents sing and play piano, play Jesus Christ Superstar over and over on the turntable, and heard my sister play Beatles albums, which eventually led to me going out and buying ELO and Queen records when I was 11. So far, neither has purchased an mp3.

Patience is key here. It might or might not happen; there’s still time. But Paul isn’t getting any younger.

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  1. Judith

    I’ll go!!!! Seriously, you did grow up with the radio/boombox. Life without music is no life at all or maybe music is life. The Phantom said, “Sing, my angel of music, sing.” Maybe music is our religion. Whatever you call it, music is our soul and the beat is in tune with our heart.
    Repeat the measure and hold on to that fermata. Yes, patience is the key.