Mama Madison: Fear of music

When kids don't take to lessons, tunes can still be a good thing

My oldest son loved the adulation he received when his elementary school band totally rocked "Blitzkrieg Bop" at the 5th grade talent show. He was relishing in pre-pubescent punk; I thought he'd found his bliss. But early last year, at the beginning of 8th grade, my budding Ramone told me he was ready to quit bass guitar lessons. A bit surprised, I asked him why. He told me that while he liked the camaraderie of being in a band, and really liked going shopping at the St. Vincent DePaul resale shop for gig-worthy attire, he just wasn't that into music.

Not into music? What the heck did that mean? I could understand not being into classical music, and preferring Top 40. Or vice versa. But not being into music at all? And then it dawned on me. As much as I hate to admit it"-I'd prefer to be seen as at least mildly cultured-- I just wasn't that into music either.

As a kid I loved going to see musicals, but I never once came home and listened to the score. Piano lessons lasted all of six months for me, which was probably five months longer than they should have. I saw Bruce Springsteen in concert twice during high school. I wish I could say it was because the "Thunder Road" lyrics had touched my soul. But to be honest, the real reason I went was the secret hope The Boss would pull me on stage just like he did Courtney Cox in the "Dancing in the Dark" video. I'm not sure why I didn't realize this could never happen from the 32nd row.

Even in college, when friends were cultivating an interest in The Smiths and The Jesus & Mary Chain, I was content to "Walk Like an Egyptian" across the sticky floor of a frat party. I wanted to look like Susanna Hoffs"but never particularly wanted to play guitar like her.

I rarely sang lullabies to my kids when they were babies; I've never liked the sound of my singing voice and was afraid neither would they. We never owned much Raffi or Laurie Berkner, or Ralph's World . We left a pre-school music class after just one session because I was unable to keep my 18-month-old from getting up from the "singing circle" to turn off the teacher's CD player.

I wish my son hadn't given up bass. And I recognize I might have been part of the problem. If I had to do it all over again, I'd stick it out in the toddler music class. Or at least wait until the teacher kicked us out instead of quitting. I'd make a point of singing "Hush Little Baby" a few more times.

And I'd definitely take him to more all-family appropriate live music events like the one coming up on Saturday, October 23 at the High Noon Saloon ( On that day, Canopy Center Healing and Family Support Services is hosting its first, and hopefully annual fundraiser, "Band Together For Kids" featuring the Wisconsin Disco Superstars, VO5.

This is the Canopy Center's opportunity to raise awareness of and funds for their programming which provides vital counseling to over 4,000 parents and their at-risk children each year in Dane County. Canopy operates the Parent Stressline and the Oasis group treatment program for families who have experienced childhood sexual abuse. With "Band Together" Madison-area families have the chance to shake their collective booties in hopes of ending the cycle of family violence.

Perhaps my son and I do have an excuse to once again to visit our favorite resale shop. But this time we'll check out white polyester ala Saturday Night Fever, funky leisure suits and glittery bell-bottoms instead of punk attire.

Maybe at the event I can convince him to sit in on a cover of Chic's "Good Times" "it has a pretty awesome bass line. And maybe, just maybe, he will pull me up on stage. Because even if we aren't as into music as I'd like us to be, we are into it enough to "disco for a difference" in the lives of kids.

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