Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Bridging the Generations

by D'Ann Mateer

When this “sing a song” topic came up, I thought Great! I can do that! But it hasn’t been that easy. Instead, I’ve written this post at least ten times, sometimes in my head, sometimes on the computer. And every time I’ve erased it. Why? Because asking me to write about a song that means something to me is like asking me to write about a book that means something to me! It’s impossible to choose!

While I do love music, can read music and plunk a few notes on the piano, and did actually sing with a praise team at church for a few months many moons ago, I am not a musician by any stretch of the imagination. Yet my youngest son is. So while he and I traveled to a friend’s book launch party the other night I decided to solicit his opinion.

“We’re blogging about songs for a couple of week,” I told him.

“What song are you going to do?” he asked.

“My first thought was ‘The Motions,’ but then there’s ‘I Need You’ or ‘Glorify Your Name.’”

He nodded his head. I could hear the thoughtfulness in his silence.

“Those are great songs,” he said. “But what about ‘Your Love Never Fails’ or ‘Highest and Greatest’? Or do you know any of Phil Wickham’s stuff?”

I told him I did. His sister had shared that music with me. He rattled off several more songs, ones he plays in chapel at school and at the Sunday school hour at church. His suggestions spurred more thoughts on my end. Back and forth we went, talking through lyrics and music. And as we talked, it occurred to me: instead of creating a generation gap, music was bridging one.

That’s not to say he and I agree on all music. I know he rolls his eyes at some things I like. I do likewise with some of his. But at that moment, we were able to find those songs—songs that spoke of our God and our faith—that brought us to common ground. Music can do that. It can divide (and I’ve seen way too much of that!), but it can also unite. We can choose to focus on the differences in style or volume (and I’d just like to note here that my children tell ME to turn the music down!) or we can find those artists, songs, styles that cross the ages and speak to both young and old.

Are there ways in which musical choices have affected your relationships? Has it been the common ground with someone you had trouble connecting with? Has it caused issues in your family or your church? How can you use music to spur reconciliation?

Or on the lighter side: do you consider the role of music in your life like songs in a musical (punctuating and explaining various situations and feelings) or like a score that plays in the background and is not necessarily noticed?

Photos courtesy of Photoexpress.com. Except the boy at the piano. That's my baby!


  1. D'Ann, boy do I remember the old days of music causing strife and division in the church. At some point I took to telling close-minded people that I thought country music was from the devil because I didn't like the way it sounded. LOL. That was usually good for making my point. Fortunately, I haven't gone to a church like that in a very long time.

    My children and I usually like the same music. We're very eclectic in our taste. We like alternative, hip hop, worship, pop, and classical.

    My husband is the one who gets in trouble for his music taste. He likes country and Arabic music. Not much common ground there. Arabic music sounds like perpetual whining to me and makes me tense.

    Thanks for the thought provoking topic.

  2. Love this concept, D'Ann. Thanks. Any way that we can relate better to others is awesome. Music is like a universal language in that respect. We may not all like the same songs, but still we can communicate emotions. Just think of a movie without a soundtrack. So much would be lost.

  3. Hi D'Ann. I can't read music or play a single note. But I sure do love it. And my son, like yours, is so talented at music. He can play anything he hears after hearing it once. He's like this musical genius. I two remember two specific instances when he was little, the first when he was four. We bought him a keyboard for his birthday. We went to a wedding where they played "The Rose". When we came home, he sat down and played it perfectly. Then, a couple of years later, we bought him a piano. We went to the drive-in to watch Jurassic Park. As soon as we walked in the door after seeing the movie (around midnight), he went right to the piano and played the theme song from the movie. It was almost eerie, but I recognized right away that this was a gift from God.

    And that is why, after years of attending the same church, when he asked to go to a different church, I made the sad decision to leave my church that I loved so much. Because my church did not allow instrumental music and my son wasn't finding any joy in church.

  4. Yes, Dina, I too have been in churches where music was an issue. So glad things have been calm in that area for awhile now!

    I agree, Lisa. Music is a universal language. As writers I think it is that "language" part that fascinates us!

    What a sacrifice you made for your son, Suzie! And I'm sure that meant so much to him, such a validation that you viewed his gift as from the Lord. I know that amazing feeling of watching your child create music when you can't!

  5. I'm thankful music isn't an issue in my home or family. I remember being in school and not agreeing with the music choices of my peers. This can be such a tricky issue.

  6. D'Ann. Great reminder! Thanks for sharing about your son, and his photo!

    Music can bridge the generations and I was born at the best time, IMHO. I got to enjoy music of the forties and fifties and sixties on the radio when I was growing up, and I came of age in the 70s (clearly the height of esoteric styles?). Today we have both hymns, gospel and contemporary Christian music in all styles. What a blessing. Sometimes I'm sorry that more of the old standard hymns have been set aside, as they have their place too.

    A good memory we've just created was at my son's wedding last summer. At one point, a large number of people at the reception circled the wedding couple, linked arms and sang with Elton John's "Tiny Dancer". Seemed all the generations there knew the words, and we all swayed and smiled and some of us got teary eyed. It was a sweet moment I hope to never forget,

    Lisa -love your example of a 'movie without a soundtrack' -so true.

  7. D'Ann, great post! You're so right about music having the potential to bridge generation gaps. I love singing worship songs with my kids, and we tend to like the same songs :-)

  8. It's a wonderful thing to be able to share music with your children, isn't it? I think its interesting that I had this post written on the heels of Anita's story of her grandmother from yesterday. I love how music builds bridges and memories, too. Lovely memory, Debra!

  9. My, what food for thought!! Just finished reading a post about musicals and popped onto your blog. I'd have to say that music definitely speaks to me, although I don't have to listen to it all the time (unlike my daughter!). Because both she and I play the piano, music has typically been something that's drawn us closer. My husband, daughter and I all sing in our church choir, as well. I would have to say that although our musical tastes differ somewhat, music typically draws us together.

    Thanks for the post! God bless!

  10. Hi D'Ann,
    Loved the post and your handsome son's picture, too.

    Music is so much a part of my life. I can't read notes or play instruments as Suzie said too, but my life is puncuated by songs and relationships throughout my life: The Beatles, The Eagles, Elvis, Chicago, Elton John (I hear ya Deb), and more recently The Fray, Faith Hill, Rascal Flatts and more.

    I do remember a time when one of our music ministers left our church because of differences regarding what direction we were headed. That's a rough time, but even with that the music remained dear to all of us, just in different ways.

  11. Hey D'Ann, you are so right. My MIL isn't a believer. Every time hubby or I try to minister to her, she waves her hand and says, 'Oh, I don't believe any of that stuff.' And yet, she loves coming to our church and listening to the music. She also buys used cassettes of Sunday School songs at garage sales or second hand stores. And when she's in the car with us, she asks for us to put them on. But she still doesn't believe there's life after death. (But we know God's speaking to her heart, don't we.)

    Nice pic of your baby. You are blessed.



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