When our kids were small we decided that part of their education would be teaching them the classics. On road trips Teddy would play music and the kids would identify the classic rock bands. At a young age (by the time they were six or seven) our offspring could identify Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Jimmi Hendrix, The Sex Pistols, The Ramones, and a myriad of other bands. This included my husband’s favorite summer road trip band Van Halen.
Just to keep the record straight on this: He prefers Diamond Dave. I prefer Sammy. But hey, it’s all good.
This all is leading us down a path to somewhere, and I’m sure you know where (or maybe not.)
The extremely popular and talented seventeen year old singer Billie Eilish said in an interview that she didn’t know who the band Van Halen was.
Asshats all over the Internet jumped right on it. They criticized her for her musical knowledge. Seriously? Does it matter that she doesn’t know a band that started out in a time that seems like centuries ago to most teens?
In an attempt to educate my children and make them into cultured little Vampires we’d have Saturday Night Opera Bath. I’d plunk the babies into the tub and turn on the radio. Now twenty years later they don’t listen to opera and can only recognize a few songs. Does it matter that their Uncle Andy is a trained opera singer? Not really. He sings to the kids but not opera. That’s ok. Opera isn’t for everyone and neither is Van Halen.
Over the Thanksgiving break my daughter didn’t know who Steely Dan was. Do I care? Not really. I don’t go out of my way to listen to them and neither does her dad. At twenty she knows who Glen Miller was but not Steve Miller. That’s ok.
As a parent you have to make sure your kids don’t grow up in a cultural void, but you can’t teach them everything. They learn things along the way and they won’t know it all by the time they’re seventeen, twenty or even fifty.
For example my kids know art. They can tell you if a work is Impressionism, Post Impressionism, Dada, Pop Art, Medieval (their least favorite and what they consider the weirdest), Baroque, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Surrealism, and many many other movements. Art is important to us, so we passed that love on to our children.
They can’t tell you who any of the presidents between John Quincy Adams and Abe Lincoln were, or anyone right before or right after Teddy Rosevelt. If they really think about it they might be able to come up with some trivial facts, but neither one are American History Majors, or Music History Majors.
We all teach our kids our own culture. In my house it is art and music we like, and how to grow herbs, and bad puns. They’ll catch up on all of the other stuff. Believe me, they can, and will, beyond your wildest expectations.
The fact that Billie Eilish didn’t know who Van Halen is is OK. She is only seventeen. Maybe her parents didn’t like Van Halen. Nobody is going to play music to their children unless they like it.
Some people do play music to their kids that they don’t like but they’re just weird and read too many child rearing books.
Ms Eilish obviously had caring parents who shared a wealth of knowledge and encouragement to their child.
One of the things I like best about her is that she is her own young woman and a good role model to other teen girls. She doesn’t rely on dressing like a later day Playboy Bunny to get attention. It is her music not her T&A.
Don’t EVER stop learning about and listening to new music. My kids introduced me to so many new bands. Of course as Vampires we have to keep up with things as a matter of survival, but that’s another blog post. Some of the best concerts I’ve ever been to were with my kids. I even went to Warped Tour with them. Yes, we had more fun than I could have imagined years ago at a Black Veil Brides Concert. Parents and other adults – don’t be old farts. Expand your musical horizons. If you have questions just look it up on my blog. I think I’ve written a dozen posts about going to concerts with and sharing music with my kids.
I’d like to think that most people reading my blog are life long learners.
So keep learning. Keep sharing information. And keep encouraging others not tearing them down
(unless they’re assholes, then you can tear them down as much as you want.)
I’ll leave you with some music. I’m off to hang lights on my Christmas tree, and then maybe dance the night away.
~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman
I’m amazed at some of the bands and music young kids know because of parents like us who played all the old stuff when our kids were growing up. And as parents who are interested in their kids, then I find young kids are often amazed by all the new music we old farts are familiar with.
Absolutely. That is the fun part of having kids. You just keep discovering stuff from each other.
That wasn’t meant to be sarcastic either… I don’t know who that is.
Van Halen hasn’t been very relevant in the past two decades… and thanks to iPods and later smartphones, kids probably don’t get much of a chance to listen to actual radio to pick up some of the “classics.” That’s a shame, because by the time I was 17, I not only knew all the popular artists of my time, but many from the 50’s and 60’s too thanks to my parents’ “oldies” station. I filled in my 70’s gap a few years later… and that was only because I so hated 90’s music that I went searching for something else!
Everybody hates 90’s music.