I have a theory about music and the generation growing up today. I reckon they are exposed to a lot more music that any previous generation because everywhere you go somebody, somewhere is playing something.
When I was a little kid we didn’t have a radio in our car, and then when we got a radio we didn’t have a cassette player so we had to listen to the radio which meant it was usually something crap, full of adverts, some old jovial Irish guy killing me softly with his inane wit, or a mixture of all of the above. I also remember my first Walkman and my first tape-to-tape stereo. ’Yes, son, these things actually existed.’
So, my theory is that the youth of today is blessed to have so much access to whatever music they want to hear whenever they want it. Hopefully this will mean more and better music in about 20 years, although as somebody who is already approaching the grumpy old man stage, I probably won’t appreciate it.
The Wheels on the Bus
As a family, we like dancing together to most upbeat music, but especially, I am proud to say, The Jam. Mr. T’s favourite song, though, is The Wheels on the Bus. He will watch various versions of it on his tablet for hours on end. He will perform all of the actions, like the baby crying or the wipers swishing backwards and forwards. He doesn’t know any of the words yet, but he can sing the ‘beep beep’ part when the horn blows all day long.
My mother-in-law has a couple of beaten up old acoustic guitars hidden in one of her cupboards and so one day I got them out and started to ‘play’ them. I haven’t got a clue about how to play the guitar so I just started hitting the strings to see Mr. T’s reaction. He was awestruck. Whenever he sees the guitars now we have to sit on the sofa together and sing ‘The Wheels on the Bus’ while smacking the strings to make an unholy racket.
Mr T’s great-grandfather has an old out of tune piano and one of the best things we can possibly do is spend a few minutes hitting keys at random and listening to the sound that they make. Both mamãe and vovó can play a passable impersonation of chopsticks and so they play the right hand while Mr. T plays the left hand. Hardly Mozart, but it’s a start.
Because Mr. T seemed to enjoy music so much we enrolled him in music classes for babies and toddlers once a week. All they do is shake and hit stuff and dance around a bit (Actually, that is all they are supposed to do. A lot of the parents seem to think that the class is just for them to zone out so that their pride and joy can just run about the room.) but it gets them into the habit of handling musical instruments.
Bed Time Songs
I had three songs to sing to Mr. T when I wanted him to calm down and go to sleep. I used to start off with The Wild Rover by the Dubliners, then move into The Gnome by Pink Floyd and, if he was still awake, finish it off with Keep Right On, the anthem for my football team, Birmingham City. One day, while in the middle of the second song, I realised I was singing to him about drinking, debauchery, drugs and a lifetime of sorrow.
Unfortunately, if I start singing a song nowadays I am told in no uncertain terms to shut up, unless it is the Wheels on the Bus, of course. This might be because Mr. T doesn’t like the songs I choose to sing, or perhaps it is my terrible voice.
Brazil and Britain both have incredible musical histories. Some of the most important bands and genres have developed in the two countries, and this means that as a bilingual and bicultural person our son is going to have access to both of these rich heritages. I just hope he chooses to listen to Chico Buarque or The Stone Roses rather than Gusttavo Lima or One Direction. Two amazingly musical countries and we both produce absolute nonsense like that.
Music and Language Learning
So far I am not sure what effect all of this music has had on Mr. T’s language skills. I am sure it will have some effect, but only time will tell what it is.