Music Lessons

​Music, no doubt, is a cornerstone of development not just for a child, but for people throughout their lives. The thing is, we learn our basic understanding of music through our parents (they are the first point of contact for anything really) and that was no less true for my self. Since my early teens I’ve listened to music that my parents definitely would not have, and will probably never. However, there are some that we have connected on that I went on to find on my own. It’s this social relationship between parent and child that I’d like to highlight a bit.

​My primary source of music literacy came from my Dad. Not to say that my Mom never taught me anything, but the most in-depth discussions of music and music history I remember was with my Father while we worked together. Perhaps if I had spent more time with my Mom, I would have learned a thing or two more. To speak of my Dad’s music experience is a story of its own, being that he was a drummer for a lot of people during a time when a lot of musicians were hanging around the Philadelphia area. But there is only one place to begin to set up the base structure of my music experience: The Beatles.

​I will not say the following things:

• The Beatles are perfect
• The Beatles are infallible
• Every song they created should have been a #1 hit
• They are “gods”

I will say:

• The Beatles were the best band in the world, and the best band in the history of music

​Now just to clear things up for you, when I say “best band in the history of music” I’m not saying that every song they wrote was flawless and that they should be held as royalty (except for Ringo, he’s the man). What I’m saying is that based on the body of music they created as a band in the time period that they were together as well as the impact they had on both culture and music itself had never been matched.

​Something that a lot of people from my generation don’t understand is that although these days they seem irrelevant, they created the basis of modern rock and pop music. Without them music would have evolved very, very differently. In a world of only Beach Boys (and all the carbon copies), Frankie Valley, Frank Sinatra, and Elvis Presley, they appeared to give us hope and deliver us into the era of Rock and Roll. They came with brand new guitar styles, brand new time signatures, and brand new lyrics.

​**I should mention here that they were not entirely new, but they were inspired by African American southern blues that, due to segregation, was never played on the radio in the United states until after the “British Invasion”**

​But enough with the history lesson, fact of the matter is, they were the base for all music and my Dad’s favorite band. So naturally that’s where I started, infused every once in a while with the inescapable fact that I grew up in the 1990’s. While my Dad taught me about The Beatles, The Who, Humble Pie, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Carlos Santana, my brother was on the other side of the timeline by teaching me about Pearl Jam, The Beastie Boys, Moby, and 311. Like I said before, my Mom didn’t sit this one out, she taught me all about the likes of Marvin Gaye, The Supremes, Sly and The Family Stone, and Motown. I even had some inflection from my brother Frank, who I never really connected with until much later. One day he took me to Best Buy and picked out some music for me to listen to such as Ben Folds, Billy Joel, and Digital Underground.

​All these influences from all these angles formed how I perceive music, and therefore affect how I will teach my children about music. But now I am faced with a concept I never thought of before, that I never considered until I look ahead at my children’s future:

​A lot of what I know and love about music will be irrelevant to them.

​Lets be honest, although the Beatles and Green Day may still hold some weight, I don’t think “The Humpty Dance” from Digital Underground is gonna make much of an impact. Music has evolved since then, and therefore so must I. I won’t abandon the artists that I know and love, and I will try to teach them about all of it, but for it to be relevant to their generation, where do I start?

​After much thought, I came up with a chart. Cultural significance mixed with cultural relevance, and compared to those of the past. This is not saying that the match ups are equal to each other as bands, but as I said, cultural significance to the next generation is the key.

My Generation
Childrens Generation
The Beatles
Green Day
Span of influence over the course of their career
The Who
Pearl Jam
Not always the most popular, but definitely inspired many current bands
Mumford and Sons
Vocal style (one lead, multiple backup) poeticism and cultural significance
Marvin Gaye
Lil Wayne
Again, cultural significance, as well as evolving the genre they were a part of
Stevie Wonder
John Legend
Need not be explained
Eric Clapton
John Mayer
Guitar playing style, and influence in the guitar playing world.
Over the top visuals with in-your-face yet molodic music

​These are just a few, but I think you can see what I’m getting at. It’s at this point that I acknowledge, of course, there are few who cannot be replaced, of which there has been no equivalent. To list a few:

​Jimi Hendrix
​Stevie Ray Vaughn
​The Beastie Boys
​Rage Against The Machine
​Cage the Elephant
​Daft Punk
​The Clash

​All in all it goes back to the same message, that I will do the best I can in teaching my little ones about life and all it has to offer, especially music. And they will form their own opinions over time which will in some ways completely challenge my own. But the least I can do is start them off with a little something…….

*cue in Bohemian Rhapsody*

B.K. Mullen
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