Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Like father like son?

Can you shape your children's taste in music? was the title of an intriguing article (as well as this piece on BBC World Service) earlier this week. Of course, the obvious subtitle should be 'would you want to?' and I suppose that depends on what your taste in music happens to be.

Doesn't it? I mean, if you're 'into' Country and Western you'd surely recognise the need to nip that musical mutation in the bud for the sake of future generations and do the decent thing - destroy your record collection?

Well, maybe. My own taste in music is so catholic it'd almost be impossible for Charlie not to follow it in some way. (Unless, of course, he starts listening to Country...) But quite apart from the question of why you'd want your children to share your musical tastes and whether that's a healthy aspiration, every parent knows that - almost by default - what we like is going to be a source of irritation and embarrassment to our children.

But occasionally, just occasionally, our kids deliver us a ready-made eighteenth-birthday-party embarrassing moment without us asking. And in our case, it was music wot done it. Opera, to be precise.

My wife and I had a night at the opera last year and - next morning - Charlie was keen to know what we'd been doing. In the course of explaining (a) what opera was, (b) what this particular one (Don Giovanni) was about and (c) how, no, La ci darem la mano didn't really bear comparison with 'London Bridge is Falling Down' I stumbled across some YouTube clips of the very opera, the very production, we'd seen the night before. To cut a long story short, we bought the DVD and Charlie must be the only four-year-old in history to come home from school and ask if he can watch Act II of Don Giovanni. Which he does, for this: the Commandatore Scene.


I'm proud my son shares at least some of my taste in music. (As I said, he could like almost anything and I'd probably approve.) But I hope he'll grow up to plough his own musical furrow; I'm confident he will. And above all, I hope he doesn't feel the need - like the loonies listening to their smartphones in the street or the crazy car drivers sharing their CDs with every other motorist for miles - to inflict it on the world in order to feel that it's validated. Because I'm happy in my own tastes whether they're shared or not. And that's the musical mantra I'd want Charlie to share.

Like father, like son.
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