Growing up on a Varied Musical Diet
by Rhiannon Nachbaur of Award-Winning Fiddleheads Violin Studio
Five summers ago I drove to a distant rural Canadian town every two weeks to teach violin lessons. The grueling 5-hour drive (did I mention I was pregnant?) seemed to whiz past when I spent quality time with my musician buddies, Bob and Fred. That is, Robert Plant and Freddy Mercury of the legendary classical rock bands Led Zeppelin and Queen, respectively.
British Columbia speed laws were drastically infringed when I blasted “Immigrant Song” and I was my car's own Canadian Idol, crooning at the top of my lungs to “Bohemian Rhapsody."
It was during one of these trips that my husband and I discovered our expectant son, Ryan, was a classic rock buff! We were listening to Zeppelin’s “Physical Grafitti” when the baby started kicking in my belly like Sid Vicious meets Riverdance. We thought the kicking to the beat a funny coincidence at first, but realised the moment we changed to something non-rock, the kicking would cease. Blast the rock and the steady thumping would resume.
My bladder has seen better days.
Ryan was born that fall and we discovered the intra-belly dancing was no fluke. This kid loved rock! His preferred teething tune was a rowdy cut from “Night at the Opera,” the Queen album that became a vital part of our bedtime ritual.
Each night as the teething pain crept in I'd distract my drooling infant by spinning around wildly on an office chair to “Death on Two Legs.” This much-anticipated routine matured into a dancing frenzy where our offspring gyrated, wiggled and squealed with delight. He was singing along with "My Sharona" and "Boris the Spider" at an age when average children are learning "Twinkle Twinkle" and "Old MacDonald."
Like Ryan, I loved classic rock at a tender, impressionable age. My favourite toddler records (you know, those big, black CDs) were by all the top bands of the 70's. I wanted to grow up to be just like Blondie's Deborah Harry and had a monstrous crush on Billy Joel and Elton John. I also loved classical music and would cry every time I listened to the second movement of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony.
The musical chairs began when I started playing violin and further immersed myself in classical music, abandoning pop music. My pre-teen pals were blasting Metallica when I was head-banging to Bach's Brandenburg Concertos, some “real heavy stuff." My teenage makeshift tattoos, “Bach Rules” and “Beethoven Kicks Ass,” were a firm indication of my pop-cultural retardation.
Circa 1994 my hip friends somehow managed to force-feed me Pearl Jam and Nirvana and I sadly realised I'd missed out on the whole Alterative movement. I made a drastic move when I abandoned plans to attend an expensive conservatory and accepted my dad's offer of an all-expenses paid trip to jazz college.
A classical musician thrown at the mercy of an all jazz and contemporary program, I was both humbled and enlighened. I developed a technical appreciation for jazz and its cerebral theory, but my real joy came when I started a 70’s rock band with my classmates. We played everything from Pink Floyd to Santana. I even performed the epic “Kashmir" once. I was home again.
Coming out of music school was like a musical renaissance. I was overwhelmed with all the music I previously didn’t give credit to and rapidly changed musical chairs again. I got into some techno thanks to Propellerheads and Portishead. I recharged my love for the Beatles and Billy Joel and added Rush, Supertramp and Abba to the mix.
I started experimenting with various forms of fiddle music and absorbed any Mark O-Connor, Natalie Macmaster and Stephan Grapelli music I could get my paws on. I soon learned to support artists outside my sheltered classical world, from Leonard Cohen to Nine Inch Nails, Alanis Morissette to Marilyn Manson.
Then, like my mother before me, I spent the entirety of my pregnancy munching on french fries and listening to classic rock. Thus another generation was hooked to rock music of the 70's.
Ryan and I really can’t help but love it! Both of us have listened to the stuff since before we were born: it’s embedded in our DNA! I know Ryan has music in him and have supported his music education with a child-sized drum kit, a teeny tiny violin and a huge piano.
“Rock please, mommy” Ryan says sweetly from his booster seat behind me. I put “ZOSO” in the car stereo and he says, “really loud.” We car-karoke together on the way to get groceries, headbanging and stomping our feet as we drive along.
Under the speed limit.