Taste-ful Education

Friday, August 22, 2008

Justin Davidson, classical music and architecture critic at New York Magazine, wonders if it's possible to teach his son to have a "taste" for good music.


Justin Davidson

Comments [33]

Cindy from Brooklyn

When my two kids were age 3 & 6 I took them to see Amahl and the Night Visitors at Lincoln Center/Avery Fisher Hall. This is a one hour long operetta by Gian Carlo Menotti that I loved as a kid at Christmas time.
To this day my son & daughter ages 21 & 24, who are into the current music styles of pop & rock, love 'Amahal'. My son, who has ADHD and 'watched' most of the program backwards in his chair, remembered every detail and we all got a little emotional at the end of the operetta.
I think little events like that will open them up to more music options/possibilities into adulthood.

I was on hold on the radio for my comment when you ran out of time.........darn.

Cindy Cravenho (cra-vin-hoe)

Aug. 23 2008 09:09 AM
Frank De Canio from Union City, N. J.

One thing you can do, is bring him to the water and make him envy the way you drink. Let the individual become accustomed to the environment and then see if he doesn't want more.

All of the drilling instruction does not help if the child does not respond. Nor does didactic teaching help.

Imparted entusiasm from the parent to the child, I believe, is the single most important factor in leaving indelible impressions that may at least serve as the foundation of lasting love for the arts.

Yes. The best education in the world will not lead a child up the right path. The job of the parent is to put it there.

My father knew and exposed me to Caruso, Mario Lanza, The Merry Widow and classical favorites were there for me to explore at my leisure. And of course the Sabre Dance. Who would have thought I'd give up the latter for the late Beethoven piano sonatas in my estimation of greatness. But then without being imbued with the harmonies of Sabre Dance maybe I would never have gotten to Beethoven in the first place.

In the movie A Tree Grows in Brooklyn the mother of the house is wondering about the need to teach Shakespeare in a world that is so hard on her and her children. But the grandmother comes in just in the nick of time and explains how knowledge is so important to getting ahead "and therefore this reading will not stop!" Indeed. Teaching music and the other arts (in an engaging manner) must not stop.

Aug. 22 2008 05:41 PM
Tony from Brooklyn

The last thing we need is permissive parents given license to invade one of the last sanctuaries of adult pleasure with their ill behaved children. It's bad enough they're running wild in restaurants, fingering the food with dirty hands in deli sections, and taking up more than their fair share of space in public areas. Now they'll be invading music venues as well.
The gaping hole in this conversation is that decorum at performances are NOT on an age adjusted curve. Your precious little darling Mozart lover needs to shut up like the rest of us.

Aug. 22 2008 11:00 AM
the truth from Atlanta/New York

my taste in music was influenced by 70's AM NY radio . My daughter listened to what I listened to while I was listening but she developed a taste for rock on her own.

Aug. 22 2008 10:59 AM
paul peacock nyc from new york city

some good man said, "there is no good or bad music, there is only music."

by which he meant that - it seems to me - that everything is a personal choice. which is good. because we are all individuals.

and those young people who are under 18 - the legal def. - are /world/ citizens - they live in the /real world/ as well as the Real World and - i believe - therefore their choices can come from the /entire world/ - and there we are.

Aug. 22 2008 10:58 AM
piminnowcheez from Brooklyn

I've noticed that a lot of people, including myself, have a soft spot for whatever their parents listened to whether it was any good or not. When I was a kid, my mother listened to a lot of Beethoven, and as an adult, I'm really fond of Beethoven. But she also listened to Seals and Crofts, and to this day, I still get excited when I hear "Summer Breeze" come on.

Good thing I'm pseudonymous or I don't think I could admit that...

Aug. 22 2008 10:58 AM
Ann from CANADA

Whoa. Is this the only thing that hipster-parents have to worry about??


Aug. 22 2008 10:58 AM
Robert from NYC

As an organist I think JS Bach rules and, well, in fact, Bach does rule. I enjoy most styles of music though and just get more intellectually and emotionally out of Bach's music. I also enjoy what many contemporary jazz and pop artists have done with some of JSB's music and very much enjoy the interpretations they present. Remember Bach on the Moog in the 70s? Neat, no?
That said, Bach rules.

Aug. 22 2008 10:57 AM
kumru from brooklyn

As a parent who has been trying to share with her son all kinds of classical music experiences for the last 14 years, I wonder what does Mr Davidson really has to offer? He is doing this for a living; it is much easier for him. Does he have any insight how to battle with a teenager who now categorically rejects his mom's music and threatens that because of all the concerts I took him to he'll never listen to Brahms or Bach? If Mr Davidson have anything to say on this, I am finding this interview extremely useless.

Aug. 22 2008 10:57 AM
Susan from Manhattan

Had my parents pushed me to listen to any type of music, I, like a normal kid would have been turned off by it. I found classical music on my own, let your kid find his own favorite music. Don't be such a know-it-all parent.

Aug. 22 2008 10:57 AM
Chris Whatley from Tenafly

An important and effective way to acquire taste in anything is to DO it. My kids play violin and cello (5 and 8 respectively) and between the lessons, their peers, the master classes, the recitals, they have learned about and learned to appreciate music that would otherwise be inaccessible.

Aug. 22 2008 10:56 AM
kel from Manhattan, NYC

I don't see how you can teach taste per se. I think we should expose our children to the arts and culture, my children being Asian and Afro-Caribean. My 3yr old loves Bollywood (Indian) music today as much as he loves Go Diego Go sountracks and requests them both in the car. I know he will grow into somebody who eventually will catalog his tastes and place them in order of preference like I did.

Aug. 22 2008 10:56 AM
maria from park slope

My taste in music was largely influenced by my father. Since then i have followed his footsteps and am a saxophonist, living in new york, playing all over the city. I am very grateful for the amazing music he hipped me too (Tony Williams lifetime, Jimi Hendrix, John Coltrane, Frank Zappa to name a few). He still continues to send me CD's every few weeks, and i think its great.

Aug. 22 2008 10:55 AM
peter from manhatten

i find it abnormal for a 10 year old to listen to classical music.

Aug. 22 2008 10:54 AM
Shoe from Elizabeth

I'm a 40 something veteran of touring hair bands. I'm also from a farm in Oklahoma. My kids and I share our music, my son is into heavy music, my Daughter is into Broadway show tunes. This is who these kids are since they were born. I take them to concerts, share in their music and teach them to play their music. I think my personality is infused in them, they are shaped more by who I am than what I tell them.

Aug. 22 2008 10:54 AM
susy from manhattan

I have to say...I don't know why this person feels the need to say he is 'cultivating' this child's taste.

Isn't sharing something he enjoys with his son enough... or does his son have to enjoy it as well.

I am also tired of people saying that classical=taste. There is lots of great music that is equally worthy. Classical is the western standard.

Aug. 22 2008 10:54 AM
sam from astoria

I had two posters over my crib as a kid in the '80s: Sun Ra and Boy George...I've grown up to be a musician and it would be very easy to say that I turned out to be a combination of the two!!

Aug. 22 2008 10:54 AM
Anne from Jersey City

My kids are little (5 & 2) but we make a cd every summer of the songs we have listened too all summer long: this isn't about a fusty notion of taste for us but about LOVE and fun--things we can dance too...

So this year, there is a song from "Really Rosie" on there b/c the 5 y.o loves that show but also a Billy Bragg political song that matters a lot to me for the politics, etc.

What I like about the guest's notion is that he is sharing what matters to him; what makes me skeptical is the rather dire, dour tone of it.

The music I still love now is the stuff my parents blasted LOUD (Sinatra & Sunday at the Met & Bernadette Peters singing Sondheim...)

Aug. 22 2008 10:53 AM
Joe Corrao from Brooklyn

ya this is a pretty elitist segment

Aug. 22 2008 10:53 AM
Ben in Brooklyn

The notion that "all music" is equally excellent or worthy of attention is bogus. Sorry, but the Captain & Tenille is not equal to Mozart or The Replacements or Prince.

Aug. 22 2008 10:53 AM
Evin Watson

As a future father I've become obsessed with this fear or razing a consumer. I don't care what kind of music he or she listens to, I just want for him or her to look at the landscape out there and make educated choices, not just get fed the taste of the month courtesy of the Disney Channel. I feel that is what taste is, putting the power in the hands of the consumer.

Aug. 22 2008 10:53 AM
SuzanneNYC from Upper West Side

Oh yes, and I talk to them about what they love as well. So it's mutual -- not a one way street.

Aug. 22 2008 10:52 AM
Repub101 from Manhattan

Morality and aesthetics are two separate realms. When people attach morality to aesthetics, we get "taste." I think it's important to expose children to a wide range of music or cultural experiences so they can learn and develop their own taste, not necessarily their parents'.

Aug. 22 2008 10:52 AM

My father used to make me listen to Jazz and would quiz me on which musician was playing which instrument. We went to many concerts from Zydeco to Bob Dylan to local jazz acts. Even though I might have complained then, I am so glad that he did that. I now listen to all of that and more with a critical and somewhat informed ear.

Aug. 22 2008 10:52 AM
SuzanneNYC from Upper West Side

It's really about sharing what you love and value with your children. And then allowing them to relate to it in their own way. Culture -- art, music, theater, literature -- is not medicine or just something that's good for you. From my earliest childhood, my parents took me to museums, concerts, theater (it was a lot cheaper then). And we just enjoyed it. I'm doing the same thing for my nephews and niece, and it's so much fun to share the experience of looking at a painting or hearing a concert. Their curiosity and enthusiasm -- and just their reaction.

Aug. 22 2008 10:51 AM
Michael from Manhattan

I do not mean to make this sound racist... but in Latino culture there isn't this divide over music. Grandmoms and grandchildren all dance to the same salsa music (that's SAL- sa not SAUL- sa) as it often gets mispronounced)IN African American culture there is also the general appreciation for R&B,and gospel etc. There is a bit of a dispute over gangster rap lyrics, but it is not unknown for African American grandmom's in their 90's to love Usher. The generation gap and angst over music and culture is more of a problem in the general anglo population it seems, that usually allwasy thinks their parents are nopt cool. Perhaps this reflects a continuing education and rejection of a culture that needed some moral fresh air.

Aug. 22 2008 10:51 AM
Tom from Upper West Side

The classical composer Haydn said it best about 200 years ago: "All music is good but the boring kind." Of course, he said it in German!

Aug. 22 2008 10:51 AM
Delia from NYC

I know that this guy's intentions are good, but my experience as a kid was: anything that my parents forced/coerced me in to, I equated with something I HAD to do, as opposed to wanted to do, which caused me to dislike these things, even if I may have liked them otherwise.

Maybe this guys's kid is nothing like me, but my advice would be to just leave your kid alone. He will figure out what he likes on his own as long as you provide an environment for him where he gets as much opportunity as possible.

Aug. 22 2008 10:51 AM
Matt in Midtown from Midtown Manhattan

Teaching taste to a child is inherently tasteless not to mention a sure fire plan to encourage a pretentious outlook.

Aug. 22 2008 10:48 AM
O from Forest Hills

Let's play classical music for our babies and toddlers to help them be smarter. Classical music raises intelligence and makes you feel good. If it don't feel good, don't do it.

Aug. 22 2008 10:46 AM
Rich from UES

Isn't this Soundcheck's beat?

Aug. 22 2008 10:04 AM

Maybe you should wait a couple of minutes and listen to the program?!

Aug. 22 2008 10:03 AM
Robert from NYC

The way to acquiring a taste for "good" music is by being exposed one to ALL music. ALL music as expression of human emotion, intellect and culture should be listened to. Should one prefer certain kinds of music over others, s/he will still have appreciation of ALL music. By the way, what does this guy consider to be "good" music and what is "bad" music?!

Aug. 22 2008 09:54 AM

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