Music - all music - is meant to be played, heard and enjoyed. Not too long ago, the "Mozart effect" was found to be a hoax. The presumption was that playing classical music to you your infant would make them more intelligent. While playing Mozart to your child couldn't hurt them, a clever promoter behind the ruse made a lot of money.
The Mozart effect isn't any more or less ridiculous than the folks that bemoan the lyrics of Rap songs that are sometimes misogynistic and violent. Are there still people around outside an asylum that still believe music can make you a homicidal maniac?
Music is very subjective, there is no perfectly great or terrible music, but rather music that you like. Growing up, lots of kids had garage bands, and I was part of several. We welcomed the extraordinarily simplistic "Smoke on the Water." We scratched our heads at Bob Dillon's "Tangled up in Blue," a song with all the complexity of a Kafka novel. James Taylor's songs are soothing, tangible and replete with rich lyrics. Friends tell me that his music is depressing and dark. Huh?!
Perhaps the most egregious insults levied at a musician that I have ever heard concerned the "Gods of Rock," Led Zeppelin and the supremely righteous Van Morrison. These naves had the nerve to say that Led Zeppelins' music was simple and unsophisticated by modern standards and that Van Morrison was simply mediocre. I was outraged at the heresy of their remarks. Then, I acquitted myself to simply agree that music is after all, very subjective.
Some believe that music provides for another cultural dividing line or provides for an indication of intellect, sophistication or even wealth. Perhaps in the imaginary minds of the terminally superior person, listening to Mozart says, "I'm important; you, who listen to listen to George Jones or Fifty Cent, not so much." Different musical preferences based on age, ethnicity or personality is always present. There is no claim to superiority, but rather individual and group expressions of preference.
Watch your children and their friends or the kid next door; they know how to enjoy music at the most authentic level. You will see them in the car moving and singing to a song or dancing with a friend on their lawn, their faces full of emotion. Ride in a car somewhere with them and they will sing parts of the song and tell you what the artist was saying and, most of all, you will soak in some of that honest, unadulterated life energy that youth have to share.
If you are over the age of thirty, when is the last time you were riding in a car with a colleague, spouse or other adult and they started rocking to a song and then told you what the words meant to them and you could feel their passion from across the seat? Remember, all kids count.
Scot Hurlburt can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org