Adventures with Aunt Jill

Music to my Ears

By
From the February 2012 edition

Given their parents’ musical preferences, I’m not sure how my best friend’s 4-year-old boys first learned about Carly Rae Jepson or Miley Cyrus. Music is an integral part of Sarah and Ryan’s lives. He heads to any Phish show that comes within a two-day drive of Ohio, while she and I used to fill our evenings with the heartbreaking ballads of Rufus Wainwright, Tim Easton and whatever played on WCBE’s World Cafe. In short, Connor and Evan’s affections for a blue-haired California gurl puzzle me. In an effort to encourage the boys’ love for music and steer them away from “annoying girl pop,” I made them a mix CD.

Part One: My CD to Them

Using recommendations from Sarah, I combed through my aging music collection for appropriate selections. I soon realized our musical interests had very little crossover. I snuck in Feist’s “1234” and two Regina Spektor songs before turning to the iTunes store for help. When I pushed the button to purchase Carly Rae Jepson’s “Call Me Maybe,” I realized the boys had won. I wouldn’t be introducing new music to them. Instead they’d altered my music collection. After a few more poppy purchases, I decorated and gifted the CD. It was a hit. The boys listened to it on repeat (skipping or impatiently tolerating my favorites) during a family road trip to Kansas.

Part Two: Their CD to the Family

I recently stopped by with my laptop and blank CDs in tow. Together, we’d make an album to give to someone they love for Valentine’s Day. (It was decided the album would be gifted to the entire family, including both cats.) As Connor and I hovered over iTunes, he called out songs from his Spotify playlist. Any other suggestion was met with “I don’t love that song.” So together we made a list featuring Demi Lovato, Rihanna and that thoroughly un-Valentine-y tune: “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” by Taylor Swift.

The Unplanned: Freeze Dance

Predictably, the best part of the endeavor was not in the original blueprint. The whole family celebrated our newly created list by playing Freeze Dance. Think: Musical Chairs, but with dancing. When the music stopped (and we were temporarily relieved of Shakira’s talent), dancing stopped. Anyone still moving had to sit down.

One Breakthrough

While the boys were unreceptive to most of my attempts at introducing new music to them (e.g., anything by The Beatles or the Talking Heads), I did manage to leave them with one song the entire family could enjoy: “High Five” from a They Might Be Giants kids’ podcast. Upbeat and featuring rainbows in the video (the boys’ favorite color), it was a win-win. As I left the house, Sarah whispered, “This is the best thing I’ve heard all day.” 

What I Learned

1. Kids are going to like what they like; there’s no changing that.

2. Madonna’s oeuvre is not necessarily kid-friendly.

3. One listen to “Call Me Maybe” plants an earworm that lives for days.

Cost

$20 or less if purchasing songs on iTunes. Creating playlists on Spotify is free.

— Jill Moorhead doesn’t have children, but borrows her friends’ kids with a dual purpose: to actually see her friends, and to find ways to spoil their offspring. She writes about food in Columbus Crave and Columbus Monthly, as well as at itinerantfoodies.com.