Noodle Loaf // Guest Post from Dan Saks
At one point in my teaching career, a young student came up to me after class and said “I’m sorry that I don’t enjoy your music class, it’s just that I don’t live in a music house. My family doesn’t do music.” I was crestfallen. I have taught in some pretty hard luck schools where kids live in run down homes with bare pantries, but no music? At all? It wasn’t that I was imagining that her home life was devoid of joy, I’m sure her parents read with her and did other fun things, but this child was 7 years old. Time was ticking to secure the neural pathways that could, if properly nurtured, bring her much joy in life. I don’t think every child needs to be groomed to be a concert oboist, but I do think a richer life can be lived when we have early exposure to melody and rhythm.
In my youngest classes, I use the idea coined by Dr. John Feierabend that we’re working on a 30 year plan. My goal is to give my students the opportunity to feel confident many years on, when dancing at their weddings, or bursting into song at a bar, or clapping along at a concert. That comfort and those skills come from somewhere. More often than not they come from homes where there’s music. That can be in the form of lullabies at night or an after dinner dance party. When children feel like music is available to them then they will feel that way as adults too. They may go to the ballet or perhaps a punk rock show, but either way their lives are being enriched by having emotional access to those expressive arts.
After hearing from that young student it occurred to me that it’s not going to be natural for every parent to share melody and rhythm with their children. If the parent’s childhood home wasn’t a “music home” then it’s likely they are unable or unsure how to do these things with their kids.
One hope I have for my podcast, Noodle Loaf, is that it can serve as a kind of how-to manual for families to learn fun ways to be musical together. The show consists of short interactive segments where kids and their grown-ups are asked to echo short melodies, clap back rhythmic patterns and play all kinds of games that to them feel like nothing more than silly play, but I know they are something more. I know those silly games will one day help them dance at their wedding.