At the same time nine-year-old S picked up the book I wrote about last week, I got (on Read Roger’s recommendation, via Farm School) Tricia Tunstall’s marvelous Note by Note: A Celebration of the Piano Lesson.
And in piano teacher Tunstall’s consideration of a student’s favored hip-hop track (“Playas everywhere. . . . Pimp on, pimp on, pimp on …”), I found some reinforcement for my hoped-for open-mindedness when it comes to my children’s cultural tastes, literary and otherwise:
The particular virtues of the piano are utterly irrelevant to the vast majority of rap music; I may as well be teaching Damian to play cathedral chimes. … But here is Damian at my piano, and this is what is on his iPod. I can give him my first, visceral response, and tell him that the song we just listened to represents the antithesis of the values — musical, aesthetic, even moral — to which I have devoted my life. Or I can spare him that bit of news, and try to meet him halfway. His face is eager, expectant. We listen again. I discover that there is a thudding bass line consisting of a series of notes in a repeated rhythmic figure (this, you understand, is the beat). I teach him the notes. He is elated; he thinks he has learned the song. Maybe he has.
Tunstall’s teaching experiences underscore another important point: that the audience for specific creative works cannot be contained by prescribed age brackets. Contrast this with the literary news from England, where Philip Pullman and others are mightily ticked off by a new effort to put such prescriptions on book jackets.
Just wondering: Do these age bands apply only to books for children, or can we also expect to see books prescribed for readers 45+?