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Music Across Generations

Between grandparents and grandkids the appreciation of a good beat goes both ways.

That appreciation goes both ways. I remember the relief I felt when my oldest niece, Liz, started showing an interest in the Beatles. I knew then that we'd always have music we could enjoy together. Apparently I'm not alone, according to Lisa LaCamera, the senior director of communications and marketing at the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, an outdoor arena in Vienna, Va.

LaCamera reports " an intense popularity of the Beatles music today among the younger generation," she said. "We see a good deal of families come out for 'RAIN: A Tribute to the Beatles,' and I continue to be amazed at the young (16- and 17-year-olds) who come out for the Steve Miller Band." It seems that the growth in radio options may be fueling some of this cross-generational sharing. When asked why they like the band, said LaCamera, "they remarked that their parents listened to Steve Miller on the classic-rock station, and [the kids] love him!"

Sue Avery, a boomer mom, says her daughter has been into her music from day one show tunes and all. But she's also become fond of her daughter's music. "We are going to a Beyoncé concert next week and a Pink concert in the fall. But she still comes with me to see Springsteen!," said Avery. Now that is a cross-generational exchange!

What is it about music that seems to connect the generations often when they feel they have nothing else in common? Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote, "Music is the universal language of mankind." Perhaps it's just that simple.

Rhonda Cagle, 41, says she and her 16-year-old daughter, Megan, often share headphones. "Sharing music leads to a deeper conversation about what is taking place in our lives," she said. "Listening to music together opens up a dialogue that circumvents barriers of style or genre. Good lyrics stir the soul and ask the questions that too often lay silent and unspoken in the heart of the listener. By listening together, we are able to explore those questions in unison and learn from the different perspectives we hold."

At one time or another, every generation's music was considered to be wild and crazy. And what generation hasn't felt, at one time or another, the emotions expressed in The Who's hit, "My Generation?" One of the best covers of that song, in my opinion, was recorded by a group of older adults called the Zimmers.

Next time you feel as if you had absolutely nothing in common with your sibling, child, grandchild, niece, or nephew, try listening to your loved one's favorite music. Chances are you can find some common ground. Maybe you won't suddenly become a fan of the Wiggles, but you might be surprised at what different musical genres have in common. You might even develop some new skills.

Phil Martin, a self-identified music lover, says three-year-old D.J. often has a better developed sense of rhythm than his grandfather does. When they listen to music together and tap out the rhythms on the table, a drum, cymbal, or anything else that's handy, D.J. often sweetly and patiently corrects Phil's rhythm: "No Opa, like this!"

"And he's right!" said Martin. Better get that kid a drum set, Opa. Some day you can be his roadie and learn about music from him...

and the beat goes on, from generation to generation.

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