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A family’s musical education

My husband and I enjoy live concerts, which for us usually entails a trip downtown to the National. We most recently went to see a critically acclaimed French electronic band called M83. I’d heard a few of their songs before, but I wasn’t sure what to expect of a live show. Lots of freaky lights, I guessed, and people a lot younger than us.

I was right on both counts. Even in the disco-ball darkness, I could tell that we were surrounded by a generation of people closer in age to our 12-year-old son than to us. I doubted some were even able to present a legal ID at the door. And the closer it got to show time, the more the youngsters invaded my personal body space. When the show started, I could hardly concentrate on the music because I was getting elbowed in the ribs by M83’s seemingly biggest fan.

My outrage brought on a realization of my advanced age and a resultant questioning of my presence at such a concert. Perhaps I would have been better off going to see the Richmond Symphony, I told myself. I could sit in a comfortable chair and be confident of the irreproachability of my body space’s boundaries.

Growing up in the shipyard city of Newport News, I never went to a live concert, unless you count “Annie the Musical.” (I still have my t-shirt.) My high school years were spent over-listening to the likes of George Michael, Janet Jackson, and the dynamic duo Milli Vanilli. I was mired in Top-40 stickiness when I went off to college, where I couldn’t walk down my dormitory hallway without hearing a different genre of music coming from each and every room.

And thus began my education – some might say the most important education of all.

While at college, I also had the good fortune of living so close to Charlottesville’s Trax, where the Dave Matthews Band played its hearts out every Tuesday night in the early 1990s. There, in that smoky and beer-spilled room, I learned to appreciate the sweaty tangibility of a live show.

I could get up close to the stage and watch Boyd Tinsley’s bare arm muscles force soaring melodies from his violin. I could watch the sweat drip off Dave Matthew’s chin. I could watch the arc of Carter Beauford’s drumsticks in order to anticipate the next song. I could sing and dance along with the crowd when they struck up “Lie in our Graves” and “Ants Marching.” I could trip, and be tripped; it was all part of the fun.

Through the ensuing years, I became a bit of a music snob, eschewing pop music as meaningless filler. If I so much as heard a beat-box, I switched the station as if my ears had been burned with a curling iron.

And no surprise, my oldest children, ages 12 and 9, like Top-40 pop music pretty much exclusively. It’s quite strange, but I’ve found myself enjoying some of it too, especially in the afternoons when I need a coffee but I’m stuck in the car chauffeuring my children to and fro.

Most of the songs scream of youth and insist on living in the moment (albeit at times inappropriately), but I believe that’s something we all could try to do a little more often.

Through my children’s eyes, I am now reliving and relearning pop culture. But I also want to teach them that there is more to music beyond the “40.”

Over their initial protestations, I do my best to play different kinds of music while we’re in the car. At home, we play what we like, and the kids inevitably start to dance and sing along. We take them to Richmond Symphony concerts, folk festivals, Landmark Theater musicals, local music events. We show them concerts on TV. And much to their chagrin, we insist on piano lessons.

When they are a little older, my husband and I want to take them to rock concerts with us. We might embarrass them, with our aging faces, comfortable shoes, and insistence on respecting personal body space. But I firmly believe that enjoying music with one another –whether it’s Taylor Swift or M83 – is one of the best things parents and children can do together, at all ages and stages of life.

Diann Ducharme is the author of The Outer Banks House the recently released e-book, Chasing Eternity, and is a wife, mother of three children and owner of one border collie. You can find her at http://www.diannducharme.com where, she blogs about the writing life.
Community

Celebrating 106 years

Former Sandston resident Mildred Taylor celebrated her 106th birthday Aug. 9. Taylor, who now lives in Powhatan, is still a member of Sandston Baptist Church. She was visited the day after her birthday by several members of the church, who played for her a recording of the entire church membership singing happy birthday to her during worship. > Read more.

YMCA breaks ground for aquatic center

YMCA officials gathered last week to break ground on the new Tommy J. West Aquatic Center at the Shady Grove Family YMCA on Nuckols Road. The center, which will featured 7,600 square feet of competitive and recreational space, including water slides, play areas for children and warmer water for those with physical limitations, is the fourth phase of a $4 million expansion at the facility. West was president and CEO of Capital Interior Contractors and a founding member of the Central Virginia Region of the Virginia Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors. > Read more.

Rotary donates to ‘Bright Beginnings’

The Sandston Rotary Club recently donated $1,000 to the Sandston YMCA for its Bright Beginnings program, which helps provide children in need with school supplies for the new school year. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


Enjoy the final days of summer with comedian Guy Torry, the Sam’s Club National BBQ Tour or mystery writer Mary Miley Theobald at Twin Hickory Library. Another great way to welcome the beginning of fall is to check out the UR Spider Football season opener with man’s best friend. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

Bottoms up

Short Pump brewery offers more than just beer
I am still (happily) thinking about my entire experience at Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery last week. Knowing nothing about this new brewery out of Denver, I was leery of brew-pub in the heart of Short Pump Town Center – this is not what I’d usually think of as a perfect fit, and yet, it was.

The restaurant and craft brewery opened in early June and features 10 beers made by female brewmaster Becky Hammond (pictured). This is the restaurant’s second location in Virginia; the first is in Arlington. Behind glass walls, customers watched the beer brewing in massive steel barrels. For our up-and-coming beer region, it makes sense that Short Pump would jump on board.

As I walked up to the back of the mall near the comedy club, I was taken aback by what I saw: at the top of the stairs was an overflowing restaurant with outdoor seating, large umbrellas and dangling outdoor lights. > Read more.

Cultural Arts Center announces 2014 fall class schedule

The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen is now registering participants for its fall 2014 schedule of classes.

The center will offer more than 100 classes for children and adults, covering topicssuch as culinary arts, fiber arts, visual and performance arts and more. Instruction is structured to appeal to a wide range of abilities, from beginners to experts of all ages. Class sizes are kept small to ensure maximum benefit for participants with generally no more than 15 students. > Read more.

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Speaking Spirit Ministries, in collaboration with the Resource Workforce Centers, St. Joseph’s Villa, Bryant & Stratton College and Dress for Success, will present the Greater Henrico Job Fair from 9… Full text

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