Saturday, December 26, 2009


It's music.

Not a Teddy Bear, or Barbie, Beanie Baby, Raggedy Ann, Cabbage Patch Doll, or Furby – definitely not a Hula Hoop, Mood Ring, Ouija Board, Pet Rock or a Duncan Butterfly Yo-Yo, though they're fun -- like Play-doh, Silly Putty, and Slinky are fun but they get tiresome, like Smurfs, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and a Zhu Zhu, hamster.

Classical music -- Bach, Beethoven, Bartok -- and a player that works with or without earphones that a two-year-old can learn to handle -- that's a gift that will grow as the child grows, never get boring, stay with the child year after year, along with other music the child wants to hear again and again.

Can a two year handle a CD player? Sure -- it'll take a little teaching, plus patience, but oh my, it's worth it -- its fun -- it's a gift that lasts longer than any toy.

Crayons are a great gift, but some children just don't have an aptitude, a hand that works naturally with a pencil, or similar tool that has to be gripped. Finger painting? It's fun, but messy, and needs supervision. The same thing is true of chalk and charcoal -- you have to work at it.

You don't have to work at listening to music.

The wonders of FAO Schwartz toys, inexpensive ones as well as expensive ones fade -- you can fall in love with a toy, but a cherished possession that you learn to use, that expands into a hobby -- a part-time or full- time way to be by yourself -- that's a gift supreme.

Once, when I was in my studio rehearsing my choreography to Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings," my son (a toddler), peered in -- he wanted something. I put a "shh" finger to my lips, and tuned the volume up a little --.the music was crescendoing, coming to a climax where ... well, it takes my breath away whenever I hear it. I sat down on the floor next to him, and listened, tears in my eyes.

Here's the recording, by Albioni, the one I was using. It has pictures illustrating nature's wonders. You can enjoy them, but if you squint them away, you'll hear what my son and I were hearing -- Barbar's "Adagio for Strings."

I put my son's hand on my cheek, and when the music ended, I played that climax section again. It thrills me and it thrilled him,.and though we've never discussed it, after that adventure, he often peered into the studio while I was choreographing, and listened to whatever music I happened to be working on.

Later, he started doodling on the piano -- just doodling, he's not a Mozart. Later on, he decided he wanted to play an electronic piano, and got involved (very early on) with jazz, pop. rock. He even built a synthesizer , and wrote music for a while.

Then he fell in love with guitar music -- saved his allowance and bought a guitar, took lessons, and played an electronic guitar, and a classic guitar. He plays them both beautifully. He has a music habit, an addiction that's still growing, expanding.

At the moment my son's installing sound equipment in his home, so his wife can share with him what he loves.

He's a working actor, like his dad, and a talented, interesting writer, but ... well, I can't help feeling that his love of music is something he inherited from me. and shh ... when he talks about music, it delights me.

Whenever we listen to music it delights me. We've had delightful chats about various conductors, and sometimes when I'm writing, I'll ask him who's IN, what's the latest in popular music. He advises me. It delights me.

My best gift to him turned out to be ... wow ... a grand gift for myself.
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