I just got back from a morning jog, listening to my iPod as always. “Stairway to Heaven” came on, and the line “A new day will dawn, for those who stand long,” played as I approached my sunlit house, my camellia tree full of pink blossoms, and the snow-covered Olympic Mountains in the background. I fell in love with the song all over again.
For most of my life, in some way or another, I’ve let society influence my enjoyment of music. Since middle-school, I’ve known that there was cool music and lame music, and I didn’t let myself fully enjoy some kinds of music because I knew they were uncool.
But for the past couple years, most of that tendency has fallen away, thank goodness. Maybe it’s because I make music with kids a lot now, and their less prejudicial experience of music has rubbed off on me; or maybe I’ve just finally become comfortable in my own skin. Whatever the reason, I hear a song like “Stairway”—a song that most people consider horribly over-played—and if I like it, I abandon myself to it.
Sure, there are some songs that I am sick of, or just don’t like, and that’s fine. But there are tons that I really should be sick of, or aren’t considered edgy or indie by a lot of my peers (U2 comes to mind), yet they still send me soaring when I hear them. Why cut yourself off from all that joy?
So how can I pass this on to my students? So many of them, especially my teens, have such strong opinions about Cool. Any ideas?