“If music be the food of love, play on.” That is a line from Twelfth Night and is the only line of Shakespeare that I remember from high school. Funny how you don’t realize what is being taught to you until years later.
I come from a very musical family. Many of my cousins have been involved in bands, songwriting and music camps for most of my life. When I was in 7th grade, we were taught the basics of guitar as a class. There were 30 acoustic guitars available so everyone had one to learn on. That changed my life in a very positive way. I stumbled onto something that I had absolute passion for. Turns out, it was something I was good at as well. While I always liked sports, I was an average athlete on my best day. I realized that music was something I could really embrace and I would never had thought it would still play such an important, emotional role in my life thirty years later.
After being smitten with guitar in music class through 8th grade, I started taking lessons and in high school played in a couple of bands, eventually deciding I preferred being a solo act and writing songs. Those songs were my therapy through high school and into college. Meet a girl? Write a song about it. Think back about the high school days? Write a song about it. A family member passes away? Write a song about it. I literally could pour every feeling I had into a song and feel better by the time it was done. It was very therapeutic but at the end of the day, listening and learning how to play all the incredible songs that were out there was the real answer. Whether it was Springsteen, Tragically Hip, U2, Lenny Kravitz, John Mellencamp or Bob Marley, there was a song that I could learn and feel the emotion when I played it. That feeling still rings true all these years later. Even though I don’t play often, it still awakens a lot of emotions when I do. That’s the power of music.
Even if you don’t play an instrument, just watch some of the performances on shows like The Voice or America’s Got Talent. If you’re not on the verge of tears after some of those than you must be a robot. I cite those shows because the songs chosen are generally from genres that have heart and soul. No one gets moved by dance music or hip hop. It makes you want to dance which is great but there is little or no emotion associated with it. Watching someone tell their personal story about being bullied or afraid to reveal their orientation and then belt out a song with everything they have is something to witness. To be honest, I would probably never even watch those shows if not for my daughter but I’m thankful because those shows have given her a love for music and a motivation to learn piano. Now when I hear her play I am reminded of how I embraced guitar when I was younger. She’s not quite there on the emotional level yet but that will come. I’ve even started teaching myself some piano chords and attempting to play some songs which is like learning all over again from the beginning. If nothing else, it’s a bond that will last forever between her and I.
Sports and physical activities are amazing and every kid should be involved in them for the social and physical aspects. But your kids are likely not going to play professional sports. At the end of the day, they need something artistic and imaginative they can hang onto. Music, drawing, painting, writing, something that they can still be doing at a high level as adults. We all know there are those times when we get down or hit emotional roller coasters and physical activities don’t help with that. We need to turn to something that can help us relay what we feel and give us an escape. Instead of signing them up for four different sports over the course of the year, put them in two and let them find something creative to fill the rest of the time. They will thank you when they get older.