How did you discover music as a child? For me it was simple, my dad is an audiophile. Not in the true sense of the word, but when he was younger he bought a pretty nice "high fidelity" tuner so he could connect up his Teac 3300SX, like this one, and his turntable. I have vague memories in the late 70's of pulling out my dad's record collection and listening to a record or playing one of his "mix tapes" he had compiled on the reel-to-reel. At that point in my dad's life he was into the Eagles, America, Chicago, The Carpenters and other similar "lite rock" acts that were around at the time. As a kid how could I pass this stuff up? That deck has some bouncing needles and cool lights sitting in the dark cabinet.The turntable was even cooler since it had an a deep orange speed strobe light. The tuner had a green panel for tuning the radio. The setup is only as good as the speakers, when mom and dad weren't home, and the headphones. I don't know what he spent on all of those components back in the 70's but they weren't cheap and I even used his speakers through college.
The conditions were perfect for a kid like me to explore the musical world my dad had built for himself. I don't know how or why I chose to play "Saturday Night Fever" but I probably wore that record out. The cover art isn't much to look at but the music was such a departure from the "Christmas Together" from John Denver & The Muppets and the "lite rock" LP's. That soundtrack opened my world to a whole new style of music. The next album on the frequently played list was "Spirits Having Flown" by the Bee Gees. I think this was less about the shrill falsetto of Barry Gibb than it was about the hooks in the music and the gate fold packaging that I could take in while listening. That would have been 1979 and I was just discovering radio. Even more music and styles out there to choose from. The magic of radio was that the DJ always made you feel like you were part of the conversation. Perhaps social media 1.0 would fit radio, but that's another conversation.
Eventually my dad gave up on new music and stuck to oldies. Even preferring the AM oldies broadcast from time to time. So I began to explore the radio for more options. It was during this time that Marvin Gaye, Led Zeppelin, Grand Master Flash, The Clash, The Cars and more started to filter through the radio. Eventually my passion turned to work leading to a great gig at the college radio station. [Long live 107.1 KWBU] I also worked at a local classic rock station and then realized that a DJ's life is not for me. This recounting of my history with music doesn't even include the saxophone and piano lessons, church choir [I still can't sing worth a dime] and my brother's playing Tuba for many years. So how are my kids exposed to music?
I have lots of LP's but they are kitchy and I don't have a turntable [accepting donations], my CD collection is stuck in books with no cover art [goodbye jewel cases] and there is only one concert poster hanging on a wall. In fairness I started them off with U2 pretty early since their brand of rock/pop is pretty universal. With everything stored digitally there is little room for them to discover a flavor of music they enjoy. Perhaps a service like Pandora will help them explore so new areas. My kids don't need to like what I like. I just hope they have a way to explore the world of music and find something their own flavor. In our increasingly digital world, this seems much more difficult.