Dec 11

No, Really: DO Stop Believin’


Last night, I went to my younger son’s 4th-grade concert and enjoyed the usual cute little elementary school ditties one tends to hear at these things and a couple of mercifully short recorder recitals. (How did this instrument, the recorder, gain such a prominent hold on the schools of America? They were using these when I was a kid too! Do any musicians actually play these, like in an orchestra? I suppose it’s supposed to be a “gateway” instrument to bigger and better things, but still.)

So there we were, as the concert wound down, and suddenly — okay, in reality, it wasn’t so “suddenly,” because I had an inkling that this song was coming, since my son had been singing it around the house in preparation for the concert — but yes, suddenly, because I’d nearly forgotten about it, trying to blot out the reality of it, they started in on the final song: “Don’t Stop Believin’,” by Journey. Seriously. If I didn’t think their music teacher was doing an otherwise admirable job engaging the kids in their music class, I would have called for her immediate dismissal right then and there. I mean, Journey? What’s next, Styx? I’d rather hear a 10-minute rendition of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” on recorder. I can’t recall now, because I didn’t think to listen for it at the time, but I have to believe that she didn’t have them sing the part that goes “A singer in a smokey room/A smell of wine and cheap perfume/For a smile they can share the night/It goes on and on and on and on.” Now that might have raised a ruckus from even the most lame-’80s-band-friendly parents in the house.

Not to take it too seriously, but it’s kind of sad that the music teacher couldn’t have come up with something more valid in terms of musical value — I suppose the fact that she wasn’t even born yet when the song came out might make it not as embarrassing a choice for her, the way that I can find some enjoyment in a song like “I Think I Love You” by the Partridge Family because I was very young when it came out. But why not take it as an opportunity to teach the kids something about quality music? Say, “Anarchy in the U.K.”? Or something by Captain Beefheart? Okay, I jest (not because I don’t think those would be awesome to hear in a grade-school setting, but because realistically I know it would never, ever happen). But at least something by the Beatles, as a little education for those kids who might live in households where the parents listen to nothing but crap or — in some cases, I’m sure — nothing at all.

Ahh, well. Hopefully the kids haven’t come to the conclusion that Journey is one of the great groups in the rock pantheon — with any luck, they aren’t even aware that the song was “by” anyone, and they’re just thinking of it as another elementary school song to be forgotten by next year. Although it does unfortunately pop up on TV a lot in various spots, so I may be kidding myself entirely — they probably all knew the song pretty well already. The best I guess I can do is keep playing the good stuff here for our boys — education begins at home, after all.


  1. Judyzwo says:

    Journey, Stix, Foreigner…they are all really big with the kids now. Sophi has started to listen to the classic rock station (which, fortunately, plays a lot of Queen) and I have to tell her why some big hair band from the ’80s is junk. She seems to think that because this stupid station thinks it’s “classic” that is has to be good.

    Now why couldn’t your son’s music teacher have chosen “Fat Bottomed Girls”?

    1. Dave Gershman says:

      Wow…I didn’t realize this was merely a symptom of an epidemic! Something has to be done.

      And I can’t even begin to imagine the potential parental response to “Fat Bottomed Girls”…

  2. Michelle says:

    Although I admit to loving the cheesiness of both Journey and this song in particular (are you surprised?), I wholeheartedly agree about music education. We had to sing Whitney Houston’s “Greatest Love of All” in fifth grade, and I am still musically scarred.

    1. Dave Gershman says:

      That’s a very sad story, and look what happened: you ended up liking Journey! Who knows what these kids might similarly end up liking?

  3. Judy says:

    Whoa, now Dave. I’m trying to hold back here. And pardon my tardiness. I have just gotten caught up on the last two weeks of Reselect. That darn tune I listened to earlier is going through my head. First, I want to say, how about you give teaching music a try. You may well want to plug your ears after an hour of listening to the recorder, clarinet or any other instrument that someone is playing for the first time. I think there’s a special place in heaven for people who teach beginning instrumentalists.
    The teacher probably has a select collection of recorder music available. With education funding as it is, the school may not have ordered recorder music since the 80’s. The school has to pay a fee to even use the song and she has to choose a song that the kids can play. Second, in my school, the kids have music as a “special” two days a week. The students who learn an instrument have lessons and band in addition to music class. We’re actually lucky. In New York many districts cut music altogether at the elementary level. Any way, the music class is where the students receive their “music education.” Perhaps there is some instruction on the difference between quality music and trash (probably not). But, remember, your opinion of what is “good stuff” may not be the same as someone else’s. I’m not that familiar with the music curriculum for 4th grade but maybe I’ll go look it up. I’ll let you know if Journey comes up! But, I’m really kidding you, Dave. Thanks for the Christmas card. Your boys are so big. They’re fortunate to be exposed to all types of music, but don’t be hurt if they like big hair bands some day. Merry Christmas!

    1. Dave Gershman says:

      Some valid points for sure, Jude, and don’t forget that I did compliment her for her success with the kids otherwise. But it’s my blog, and I’ll cry about Journey if I want to.

      Merry Christmas!

  4. Judy K says:

    I know…I just don’t want you to go through 8 more years of concerts and be disappointed (not in the kids, of course, but in the selection of music). Be hopeful that your school district continues to fund music and band.

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