In Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, the character Orsino says, “If music be the food of love, play on.” I wonder what ol’ Bill would write in 2012? “If music be the food of love, can I have some Tums?” Please don’t get me wrong. There is a lot of good music being created and performed today—just like it’s been for generations. But some of it isn’t appropriate, and I’m not sure that we—as leaders or parents—are as aware of what’s out there as we should be. What got me started on this subject? I’m glad you asked.
There are times when we suggest a song as a music transition between segments in Family Experience. We also use song titles, and parodies of titles, in other parts of our curriculum. I was doing some research the other day to find some current songs for this purpose. I started by checking the Top 40 list. Then the Top 100 list. I expanded to the Top Songs of 2012 list! I soon became aware of the fact that I couldn’t find a single song that would serve the purpose I needed it for, or was age appropriate—or even appropriate, period! Sometimes it was a single word, other times it was several words, and more often than that it was what the song was about that disqualified it. This research kinda convicted me. Why? I’m glad you asked.
Throughout the ages, music has been a very important part of life from childhood on. “Hast thou heard Beethoven’s 5th?” “Yea, I have. I hath also heard that if thou playeth it backwards, it sayeth ‘Mozart is dead.’” Music plays a part in the development of a child’s worldview. Starting with when my oldest son was in middle school, I have tried to be as aware as I could with the music my children listened to. My son and I would listen to songs together, and then we’d talk about what each of us thought what the lyrics or the whole song meant. As a result, my son thought a little more about what he listened to, I learned to like some new music, and he became classically rock trained. It backfired on my youngest son a few years ago. He wanted to download a certain heavy metal song on his mp3 player because he’d “heard it on his friend’s mp3 player and it was okay.” I told him that I knew that song, the name of the band and the album it was from. (I learned it from my oldest!) As he stood there in disbelief I wanted to say, “Go ahead. Try to get a Marilyn Manson song by me.” But I digress.
The research I did recently convicted me because I wasn’t as aware as I had been before about the music my kids were exposed to. I want to encourage you as leaders to become very aware of the music that’s out there. Look up the lyrics to the songs that have a good melody, but you can’t really understand the words. Familiarize yourself with what’s trending in music. Let the kids you lead know that it’s not right to listen to a song that’s demeaning to women or a certain group of people, uses bad language as casually as saying hello, and that goes against the virtues they’ve been learning about in your environments. Then, encourage the parents to do the same.
Admit it. When you hear certain songs it takes you to a certain place in time, speaks to you in different ways, and can be something that you can identify with. It happens with the children you lead too. Be that other voice that speaks into their lives and influences their choices. Even in music. What have I done about it? Don’t ask me—ask my kids!