My seven-year-old is involved in one of those after school programs that reminds me about how fortunate kids have it these days: STAR Education’s Rock Star. The public school he attends gets funding for these after school programs and then STAR upsells parents on special courses–in this case, rock music. I mean, I can barely handle this. He’s not old enough to ride in a car without a booster seat but is old enough to play Guns and Roses songs on the drums. Just this weekend, he played the frigging Wiltern in Los Angeles on a frigging stage with frigging fog machines.
Anyway, I got to thinking.
First of all, the closest I ever got to the Wiltern at age 7 was singing Christmas carols at the local senior citizen rest home. Secondly, the closest I ever got to rock music at age 7 was Tears for Fears. Now, I’m not saying that if STAR Education was around in suburban Denver back in the 1980s that my family would not have allowed me to participate. But I am saying that if STAR Education was around in suburban Denver back in the 1980s, I wouldn’t be playing drums at the Wiltern. I’d probably be singing Christmas carols at a local senior citizen rest home.
Of course, all of this interest in rock music has opened a floodgate and now my kid has the same musical tastes that I did in 1992. Just last week he was mad at us for some seven-year-old reason and so he locked himself up in his room and blasted Metallica’s Enter Sandman.
I know, some of you judgecicles out there are probably wagging your finger at me and making clicking noises with your tongue. And for the record, I haven’t listened to Metallica since before the millennium, and the older I get, the more calming acoustic sounds enter my music library. In any event, it hasn’t stopped there. Guns & Roses, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Poison–the list goes on. I’ve desperately tried to key him into broader music but get remarks like “Ugh, Dad! Not the Beatles!!”
So here I am. Now I must justify my parenting choices. I’m the one that must face the consequences of him humming “Paradise City” while trotting to school with a Spider-Man book bag and Captain America tennis shoes.
I’ve decided it’s good for him. What better genre can introduce a young kid to the idea that music creates energy? What better genre to learn something like the drums in–requiring the drummer to completely lead the band and the overall orchestration of the piece? What better genre to enable a kid without a fully-baked vocabulary to adequately express how he is feeling and perform that necessary cathartic process of artistic expression?
Sure I can show him the intricacies of The White Album and how the complexities of the album’s narrative speak to a transformative time in history. Sure I can show him how to get lost in the current of BB King’s guitar play, or relish in Paul Simon’s songwriting, or go on Pink Floyd’s psychological journey, or move to the pop sensations of Motown. Sure I can do all that (and, believe me, I do)–but when you get right down to it heavy metal does something for a kid nothing else can. Permit the kid to fully and completely express his boundless energy.
And for that, I’ll try not to shake my head upon his recitation of “No More Tears.”