Handing Down Riverdance

Last week I got to fulfill a dream that I’ve had since 7th grade. Thanks to the patronage of some very kind individuals, my wife and I were able to see Riverdance live. Now, my wife had seen the show before, but I had not. Sure, I’ve been to Ireland, and was even in Ireland during the 10th anniversary year. Now, though, we saw the 20th anniversary tour, and I was blown away.

What surprised me most was how these familiar songs still had the ability to move me. The energy of the dance was entrancing, even though all of the beats have been stamped into my memory thanks to an original recording of Riverdance that I kept on repeat for most of middle school while doing my homework. Each song felt nuanced, energetic, passionate. And I realized for the first time that this show is a bit of a 101 course in world dance, featuring the firm, dignified grace of the Irish step, the sensual, yet playful Flamenco, the aerobatic Russian style, and the jovial American tap. Each played a part in creating a fun, engaging experience.

Music has the power to move us. Whether we admit it or not, the ability of a melody or a tight harmony to make the hair on the back of our neck stand on end is a given. It helps us to grieve, to face overwhelming odds, to celebrate victories.

So I wonder about your musical gifts to your children. Are your children familiar with old hymns and new praise choruses? Are your children acquaintances of Beethoven and John Williams? Can they rock out and contemplate?

I’m the father of a yet-unborn little girl to whom I will bequeath a treasure-trove of music. I will hand down to her the music of my people, which includes, but is not limited to: John Denver, Southern Gospel, Jimmy Buffet, 90s country, classic rock (70s and 80s), Bluegrass, Celtic, Spanish guitar, swing jazz, Puccini arias, Mozart, Vivaldi, and some modern artists I’m not ready to admit to the public I like. I gained an appreciation for music as a way of life, through listening, singing, playing. I realized that the songs I hear every day are speaking to others differently than they speak to me.

I know I’ve asked this before, but have you introduced your kids to music? Do you listen to the same thing in the car every day? What would happen if you tried something new?

What I’m looking forward to is the day when my little girl looks up at me and says, “Hey, dad, check out this new song I found,” and my daughter will hand to me music in the same way I handed it to her. Now, I make no promises, future daughter, that I will like it, but I will listen, and I will appreciate that you trusted me enough to share it with me.

What art and experience have you introduced your kids to? What happened? How can you take time to introduce your kids to culture and to deeper conversations about how they interact with it? What song is played most often at your house?



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