Connecticut Shoreline Studio for Music Lessons
in Voice, Piano, Guitar & the Fundamentals of Music

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Connecticut Shoreline Studio for Music Lessons
in Voice, Piano, Guitar & the Fundamentals of Music

Clef Notes

Open Your Heart to New Genres of Music

Open Your Heart to New Genres of Music

You know who you are. You have your particular genres of music that you listen to, and that’s it. I used to be like that. I used to say that I never listened to country music or bluegrass. And there were lots of other types of music I really didn’t like as well, e.g., Gregorian chant, Tuvan throat singing, and anything with sitar (too slidey).Zydeco

Truth be told, I think I didn’t want to like country or bluegrass music because it would mean that I identified as a Southerner. Ever since moving from Montana to Arkansas as an 11-year-old, I had felt like an outsider. Accepting the music of that culture as my own felt like giving up part of myself. Part of my identity was NOT being from the South, and I wasn’t giving that up.

Mando-PopInterestingly enough, when I moved to Connecticut 35 years ago, part of my identity became NOT being from New England. I was a Southerner. And, lo and behold, I became a rabid country music fan. Ha ha! How silly is that?!

But I still didn’t like bluegrass.Indian-Jazz-Rock-Fusion

Enter Live Bluegrass

But then things started to happen like when I showed up to a county fair somewhere on a beautiful day, and there were was a live bluegrass band in full swing. I stopped for a moment next to the band stand to listen and watch. Man, were those guys KICKING IT! Whoa! Talk about FAST PICKING!! And they had AWESOME three-part harmony! The energy coming off of that stage was like nothing I had ever experienced. I really enjoyed their show! Did I leave and immediately start listening to bluegrass? Not at all. There was something about the prerecorded vibe that still wasn’t grabbing me.Ska

Enter Chris Thile

Then I happened to hear “Smoothie Song”  by Nickel Creek: Chris Thile, Sara Watkins, and Sean Watkins. Then I watched the cool video. It reached me at a deep level, somehow. The cleanness and articulation of the playing, the fun they were all having, the vibe. I was hooked! I went on later to become a big Sarah Jarosz and Aoife O’Donovan fan. Imagine how happy I was when I’m With Her was formed (a trio of Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz, and Aoife O’Donavan). I had a chance to see them live at College Street Theater recently and wept through the entire concert, it was so beautiful. 

BhawaiyaEnter My Children

Funny thing, my children came with their own ideas about music and their own interests. In order to keep myself in their worlds, I would listen to (and still listen to) their music. (See my post “What Songs Are Your Children Listening To.”)

Rachel Connolly

Rachel tended to listen to a lot of what I would call “young girl pop music.” I know all the songs from Miley Cyrus and High School Musical, and now, because of her, I try to stay in touch withBongo-Flava all things Taylor Swift. And our ongoing joint trio project with Abigail keeps me listening to groups like I’m With Her and The Wailing Jennys more than I might otherwise.

Zachariah Connolly

Progressive-HouseI spent an entire very long car ride getting an education from Zach about EDM, a.k.a. Electronic Dance Music. I learned about Dubstep and spent time listening to the likes of Haywyre, Au5, Virtual Riot, Seven Lions, and Deadmau5. I had to get over the fact that they used a 5 for an “s” and, in general, used really weird spellings for their band and artist names. I was judgmental about that and about the fact that no Dubstepone seemed to be playing real instruments. But watching Zach become a composer while being inspired by those artists changed my entire attitude. It is just as much a legitimate way to express yourself musically as any other. Some of my favorite memories are all the fun he and his best friend Nathaniel Volf had as a duo called Daily Revival producing their EP Gold Dipped. They would just laugh and laugh and laugh! Six years later, they are still friends and still collaborating!Folktronica

Abigail Connolly

While I learned a lot from Rachel and Zach, Abigail is the one who really pushes me. She is totally engaged in Norwegian-Folkkeeping me up-to-date with music genres that really challenge me. For some reason, she seems to care the most about my music education. HellbilllyBecause of her, artists I have come to enjoy as much as she are Vulfpeck (omg, Joe Dart’s bass playing!), The Fearless Flyers, Snarky Puppy, and Ghost Note (omg, I want to wear the bass player’s outfit!). 

And she makes me listen to Jacob Collier regularly. It’s like my medicine or something. 

She introduced me to Morgonrode, Norwegian folk. Who knew such a genre even existed? I mean, I guess every culture has their folk music, but how many others of you are actually THINKING about that enough to seek it out?

Tuvan Throat Singing

I used to think I really couldn’t stand Tuvan throat singing (maybe had to do with the fact that my mother introduced me to it when I was 13), and I still really don’t like it, but then I saw these guys. OMG!!! I LOVE THEM! LOL!

Then Abigail introduced me to these people.

SERIOUSLY!? These guys were playing Detroit in 2019!! Are you up on this?!? ARE YOU PAYING ATTENTION?! Tuvan throat singing enters pop music?!When Your Dad Is a Tuvan Throat Singer

Now, I will probably never have this music in any of my Spotify playlists, but please stop and think about this for a moment. I’m going to make a big jump here and say that if you are not willing to at least LISTEN to music outside of your comfort zone, perhaps you are not willing to listen to these people and what they have to say on a larger scale. 

Opening your hearts to people groups and cultures outside your own could help you open your mind to other ways of thinking. Consider making time for that in your life.

Don’t be afraid. Be brave.

11 thoughts on “Open Your Heart to New Genres of Music”

  1. Sandy, this is soooo interesting. You put a lot of thought in this. Now I will try and have an open mind about genres I have not tried.

  2. What a great informative post!!!! I’m sorry I haven’t read this until now!!! Loved the “Smoothie song” and now have Nickel Creek playing on my echo!!!! So much “new” music for me to explore!!!!!!! Do you like all the “!!” at the end of every sentence?!?!?!?!!!!!

    • Hi Fred! So great to get a comment from you on my blog! I LOVE ALL THE!!!!!!! Keep it up!!! I’d love to hear what you think of some of those other genres.

  3. Listened to them all, again. I think I skipped a couple awhile back. Some are interesting, but I’m not going to crush anyone by saying which were not pleasing to my ears. While I still listen to albums of pop music from my era, e.g. Neil Diamond, Carly Simon, Barbra Streisand, even Marty Robbins, et. al., I still gravitate to big orchestral works by Mahler, Stravinsky, Shostakovich, Beethoven, et. al. Last night we attended a concert that included Stravinsky’s 1919 version of The Firebird. Played by our full orchestra, it was fabulous, but even more interesting was our new assistant music director’s commentary beforehand. He explained the work in short “serial” fashion bits, including the music that went with it. Now, to me, that was impressive, as back in the day when I could play a bit of piano, I could never start anywhere other than at the beginning of the piece. To pick up a fragment and play it with conviction, as our players did, was amazing. Then, of course, they played the whole thing through. It was (and remains) my favorite “go to” music system demo piece as far back as 1965, with the first disc I had that actually captured the visceral bass dynamics on my first BIG horn loaded EV speaker system. The BEST short version today, is the Fantasia 2000 interpretation in THX Blu-Ray, which makes me cry every time. It was shortly after Carole’s death and the imagery and presentation of death and reincarnation transcend any religious imagery, IMHO, — EVER!

    • Hi Dad! Thank you for this detailed comment! I attribute many my beginnings in music to the fact that you listened to so much of it. And the fact that you and mom would sing without hesitation. I am a better person for it! 🙂

  4. Thank you, Sandy. I will quibble over your comment that I would sing without hesitation. Maybe your mom did, but I cannot remember the words to any song besides Bill Grogan’s Goat and happy birthday.
    I did, however, expose you to lots of music.


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