So, we just got back (a couple of days ago) from an awesome trip to the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame. I absolutely love it, but more so, I love using it as a conduit to teach my kids not just about this music, but the making of this music, and how it came about in the first place.
In the course of exploring the place with my family, a few interesting things came up.
- In showing my oldest daughter, Annika, John Lennon’s Mellotron, I was delighted to discover that the back of the unit was partially open. I could actually take her around to the back of it, and show her all the spools of tapes, explaining how it all worked.
- She also greatly enjoyed the partial mock-up of Sun Records studios, where I was able to explain to her the various aspects of creating an master recording, and how vinyl records were created. We also got quite a lengthy conversation going on regarding their display of the evolution of recorded music (from wax cylinders all the way to the iPod).
- She was thoroughly engrossed in the exhibit detailing Les Paul’s creation of the electric guitar. In particular, she seemed absolutely fascinated by the “log” guitar. I’m not sure if it was the simplicity of the design, or the fact that she just realized that “this is something you can actually build”, but I had a heck of a time pulling her out of there (which is saying something, given how in love with that room I am).
- She also really took a shine to Elvis Presley. Previously, The Beatles were as early as she cared to go into the roots of rock, but something about Elvis just really got at her core this time. She read every single placard about him, watched every single film clip, and stopped at every audio booth to check out his music. I’ll admit- over the past few weeks, Elvis has been revealed to be a bit of a cultural blind-spot to myself, as well. Downloading his greatest hits to try to cover the first induction class while making the drive to OH (all told, I was only able to put together playlists for the classes of ‘86, ‘87, and ‘88), I was astonished not by how many songs I knew, but how many of the songs I liked. I’d always considered him one of those “well, I like this song, and that song…oh, and that one” artists, but I’d never sat down to figure up exactly how many of his songs I DO like.
- On the other hand, we had to carefully avoid any section featuring David Bowie. Try as I might, I simply couldn’t convince her that he’s not REALLY a goblin king (nor have I been able to convince her that it’s well worth sitting all the way through Labyrinth). I don’t think she’s aware of just how many of his songs she enjoys, so this may be something we have to work on. Perhaps in a few years, she’ll be ready for at least “Well, if this particular Bowie persona freaks you out, just try out the one he used a couple years later”.
Of course, the two younger kids were mostly bored out of their minds after a while (after all, it’s an awful lot of reading for a rock n roll museum, not much interactivity, and when you’re 3 and 4 years old, the two most exciting things in the whole place tend to be the escalators, and lunch). All told, though, if nothing else, it was a wonderful father/daughter bonding experience, and one that I hope we can continue to grow on.