Music Appreciation

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    For lots of families, the youngest is in a constant scramble to get any scrap of attention she can. And so it was at the dinner table a handful of years ago, when Lindsey, tired of hearing the usual stream of talk about current events and politics and other stuff that had absolutely nothing to do with her, interjected, “Wanna take a Lindsey quiz?”

    After every sibling eyeball had been rolled and multiple attempts were made to shut down The Lindsey Quiz before it even began, her first question was this: What’s my favorite sport?

    We had to buzz in, of course, (the buzzing in is still the best part!) and one by one, we submitted our answers until the correct one was proffered. The questions that followed in The Lindsey Quiz were pretty basic, and all about you-know-who: What’s my favorite TV show? What’s my favorite animal? What are my five favorite fruits?

    A few months later, on a mommy-and-me road trip, Lindsey adapted the rules of the game along with its name – probably because three hours into this particular journey, Mommy had developed a pretty good handle on the majority of the original material.

    Her: What’s your favorite sport, Mommy?

    Me: To play or to watch?

    Her: What’s your favorite food?

    Me: Real food or snack food?

    Her: What’s your favorite song?

    Me: Will you accept my top five?

    During The Mommy Quiz, it occurred
    to me that while it might be easy for a 9-year-old to declare the giraffe as her favorite animal of all time, or B.o.B.’s “Magic” as the best song ever made, Mommy had a much more expansive memory bank to peruse before she could answer a single question.

    Which is why I invented a clever system to sidestep the hard work of providing definitive answers, responding with a question for each one of her queries. This worked well, until something came along that was kind of fascinating to ponder.

    So do you have a favorite song? Because I sure don’t.

    Music has always been an important part of my life. Between church choirs, patriotic concerts, musical theater, oldies but goodies from my parents’ era, popular songs from when I was growing up, classical music courtesy of my honey, and whatever amazing new artists my teens might be seeing at The National this month, I’m about as open-minded as a person can be when it comes to music, and I treasure its place in my family’s life.

    When I read It’s Your Music, our piece by Lisa Crutchfield on page 14 about the Richmond Symphony, I realized I’m not alone! The forces at work and the pull of music in our fair city are nearly impossible for families to resist. The Symphony is on a mission. Not only does Lisa talk to kids who perform in coveted roles with the orchestra, she explores everything from instrument petting zoos, to special outdoor concerts, and the Come and Play concert at the Siegel Center in the fall. You really should check that one out with your kids if you haven’t been.

    I like to think that this kind of broad appreciation for music has been firmly entrenched in my children. And this is confirmed when I glance at the one remaining basket of toys in our family room, full of musical instruments, saved, I suppose, in case a gang of preschoolers breaks into our house and demands to have a parade. Next, I hear one of the women-children playing from an old piano book – yes, for the fun of it – when no one has taken a lesson in at least three years. And this summer, we’ve appreciated some amazing musical theater in Richmond as a family.

    So getting back to Lindsey’s game.
    I know I’ll never come up with just one favorite song (frankly, even a top five would be pushing it), but if you ask me to name something that has helped me become a better parent…

    Buzz! That’s an easy one. Music!

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    Karen Schwartzkopf
    Karen Schwartzkopf has her dream job as managing editor of RFM. Wife, mother, arts and sports lover, she lives and works in the West End with her family: husband Scott, who not coincidentally is RFM’s creative director, and their daughters—Sam, Robin, and Lindsey. You can read Karen’s take on parenting in the Editor’s Voice.