I grew up in the 1980's. For as long as I can remember, music had always been around me. Everything from watching movies on TV, to listening to the radio in the car, listening to the radio at home, and of course, there was MTV which at the time, was 99% music videos only.
From an early age, I was exposed to music that came before my time such as The Beach Boys, The Beatles, and even Steppenwolf. My mom had those albums on vinyl and she had a big stereo with a record player. You know, it was one of those stereos from the 80's with those big bulky speakers that were about 4 feet tall. They were so cool. I used to look at the art work in her record collection while I listened, explored, and discovered new sounds.
So by the time I was 8-years-old, growing up in the 1980's, I had already been exposed to the popular music of the 50's, 60's, and 70's. Then for the majority of my childhood, I was constantly surrounded by 80's music which I still love more than any other decade. I think that's how it works. Your favorite music comes from whatever you were most exposed to as a child. I'm not sure if I listened any more or any less than any other kid, but I know I spent a great deal of time sitting in front of my mom's stereo in total fascination.
When one of my older teenaged cousins found out that I listened to music a lot, she gave me 2 vinyl records of Def Leopard. Once I heard that band, I knew I had found something special. I was 9-years-old and hooked on Def Leopard. I already knew that I was a music addict.
Since my mom knew I loved to listen to music so much, she encouraged it by giving me a 'boombox' for Christmas. Since my boombox ran on batteries, I used to bring it in the bathroom with me when I had to take a shower. I think all kids hate taking showers, so I used to make it more tolerable by listening to music while I washed myself.
That's when we had moved on to listening to 'tapes.' Remember those things? I think the first tape I got was Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' which I think every human on the planet owned at that time. I listened to that album over and over. I also got more into 80's rock, continuing with my Def Leopard obsession, Bon Jovi, and moving on to 'harder' rock bands like Guns 'N' Roses. At the time, people argued whether some of these rock bands were even playing real music. My theory is if a band is playing real instruments such as a guitar, bass, drums, and you hear a melody, harmony, and rhythm, you're listening to music.
Then when I was around 11, I discovered Metallica and I just knew that I had to learn the guitar. They wrote this song 'Enter Sandman,' and I thought it had the coolest guitar riffs I had ever heard. It would take me 2 more years before I would actually get a guitar and make a commitment to learning a musical instrument
, but in the meantime, music was at the center of my leisure time.
Once I got my first guitar, there was no turning back. I took formal lessons for 5 years and then went off to college and got a bachelor's degree in music and then a master's degree in music in jazz performance. As I got older, I fell in love with classical and jazz music. It's amazing how I went from one genre of music to another and today, I still love all of the music that I've mentioned in this article.
The point of my story is that the 'seed of music' was planted at an early age. If you're a parent reading this, and you would like your child to learn a musical instrument, then you need to create an environment early on that is filled with music. All types of music: rock, pop, funk, folk, 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's, 90's, jazz, and classical. Always have music on in the car. Try to turn the TV off and put on a streaming radio station on your computer while you wash the dishes, while you are cooking, or while you're relaxing outside on a summer day. Your kid will get exposed to it. That's how you plant the seed.
Your child doesn't necessarily need to learn an instrument so that he/she will go off to college as a music major. That's not the goal of learning an instrument. The goal is to have a well-rounded education and musical training provides enormous benefits in other academic areas like Math, Reading, and Science.
From my own experience, I discovered in my junior year of high school that not only did I enjoy learning, but my GPA really took off from that point on. I am convinced that it was my musical training that contributed to my new-found appreciation for learning in school and improving my grades. If I had started learning an instrument sooner, I would have seen an improvement in my grades much sooner as well. It takes time before the benefits of music training show themselves through test scores and grades in Math, Reading, and Science.
So plant the seed now, get your child started in music, and watch the grades and test scores fly sky high.
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