I'm a silence person. I don't like a lot of sensory stimuli, including jarring imagery or sound or texture. With the exception of first drafts and driving solo, both of which I find best accompanied by loud music, I am content to rattle around with only my thoughts taking up aural bandwidth, if such a thing is even possible. (Do you "hear" your thoughts? I think I do.)
It wasn't always that way. Between the ages of 8 and 18, I played the cello - rather seriously, as a matter of fact. (I know that some people don't know what a cello is so here's a picture of Yo Yo with his.)
Then I quit cold turkey and I doubt I could play any more, though I'm tempted to try and probably will when things settle down around here.
Here's a picture of me with my string quartet and our advisor when I was my daughter's age, going-on-sixteen. I'm the one on the left. (Those of you who remember Gunne Sax dresses will notice two nice examples on Jenny Shallenberger - 3rd from left - and the other girl, whose name I've entirely forgotten. Of course, I made my own dress.) The older gent was our advisor, Mr. Spotts. Isn't that a marvelous name?
And here's a picture of Junior last summer at music camp - drumsticks are a little easier to haul around than a cello:
I include these pictures because I've been thinking of the role music plays in my kids' lives. Right or wrong, I decided early on that music ought to be part of the curriculum and since it was given cursory attention at best by the education people in our state, I made it a rule at home that the kids had to give it the same attention they gave any other subject - and that meant half an hour's practice 3 or 4 times a week. I told the kids that when they reached high school they could choose whether or not to continue, but for five years they had no choice other than which instrument to play.
They complained bitterly. I didn't care. I'm hardly a tiger mom but on this subject (and that of TV, which I regulated with such a complex set of rules that the result was that we hardly ever watched it unless it was something I wanted to see, a hypocrisy I sort of regret) I was resolute. And sure enough, when the time finally came for them to quit, neither wanted to. They played on, and my son will join an orchestra when he goes off to college next year.
There's all these studies - if you're a parent, you've heard 'em - that show that music helps kids with everything from math to languages. Arguably, the study of music gives you a bit of snob cred, though I imagine my whole family is weary of me going "I played that" whenever a classical music piece is co-opted for a television ad.
That wasn't why I made my kids play, though. I'm not sure I can put my finger on the reason. Nostalgia, certainly, and a vague feeling that there should be some depth to the experience of music as funneled through pop culture. But I've loved hearing them practice, even back in the terrible early days of cacophony and missed notes.