Live music took hold of me early on. I was sitting in a metal folding chair in a large gymnasium-like room at an Irish festival as a kid. There were musicians on stage singing the Irish songs I knew by heart and others I had never heard. I was mesmerized. I felt alive in a way that I didn’t yet understand. I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to stay in that room, in that magic, forever.
As life went on, I came to realize the feeling I experienced that night would consume me every time I heard live music. Perhaps it was in my blood. Perhaps it grew out of the comfort of listening to my dad’s voice and guitar lull me to sleep at night or gently wake me from my dreams in the morning. Perhaps those Irish musicians were wildly talented and I couldn’t help but be drawn in. Who knows why we love the things we do? I do know that once we find something we love, the world opens up to us. We see in color. We live in dreams. A beautiful soundtrack plays in the back of our minds as we move through our days.
I want my children to love something the way I love music. I want them to feel alive and joyful and inspired when they find it. I want to provide them as many opportunities to find what they love as I can.
A few weeks ago, we considered venturing out past bedtime to a local coffee shop to listen to a group of musicians. I worried the kids would be too tired. I worried they would be bored. I worried they would be disruptive. A bigger worry though, was that we would stay home and miss the opportunity to experience music, to see people who love something passionately preform, to learn about instruments. So, we went.
We slipped in the back door and made ourselves comfortable on a cozy couch. There must have been about 25 musicians in a large oval in the middle of the room. There were guitars and violins and cellos and harmonicas and mandolins. It was a jam session. People took turns playing songs while the rest of the large group accompanied. My oldest gave in to his sleepiness and the soothing sounds and put his head back and relaxed. My two younger children were fascinated by the instruments and examined them as the musicians played. The night was a success.
For me, it was an opportunity to experience something I love. For my kids, it was one of many experiences that just might shape their lives the way that night at the Irish festival shaped mine. I know their love may find its way to things other than music and that’s okay. My only wish for them is that they have moments in which they feel alive in a way they don’t yet understand. Moments they don’t want to end. And once they find them, I hope they stay in those moments, in that magic, forever.
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