Music has always been a big part of Marsh family life. I have vivid memories of my brothers and I leaping about the lounge room, tennis racquets or cricket bats in hand, air-guitaring with maximum energy to John Farnham’s Two Strong Hearts. The trick though was to jump off the lounge and land nimbly on the floorboards, otherwise the needle would skip and scratch across the surface of Dad’s (Warwick’s) Age of Reason LP record, momentarily ruining the fun.
Dad had other great LPs too: Ry Cooder’s Paradise and Lunch, Bob Dylan’s Slow Train Coming, Joe Satriani’s Surfing with the Alien (made for air-guitar!) and most of Keith Green’s albums. Dad even had (please tell me you still have it, Dad!) the Beatles’ Hey Jude single on vinyl, with Revolution on the B-side, still one of my favourite Beatles songs. Revolution was another air-guitar banger – we used to blast it through Dad’s expensive Tannoy HiFi speakers, and I still turn it up in the car when it pops up on my Spotify playlist these days.
Dad wasn’t content with us just listening to music, though. He and Mum (Alison) were intentional about us learning music from a young age, and for that, I will be forever grateful.
Music became an integral part of our family life. My siblings and I were introduced to music at our local conservatorium from the age of 4. We learned about melody, harmony, rhythm and dynamics, and became familiar with a wide variety of musical instruments.
I still remember the afternoon they brought the drum kit into the music room. I was only 5 or 6 years old, and my eyes must have lit up as I listened to the teacher explain the basics of drumming. As I grasped the sticks and stretched my right leg to reach the bass drum pedal, the teacher looked at Mum with a knowing smile and said, ‘Yep, he’s a drummer.’
In the decades since, Dad and Mum have invested many tens of thousands of dollars in private music tuition as well as quality instruments for all five of us kids. Again, something that I will be forever thankful for. The many years of music lessons morphed into our family playing music together, recording and travelling across Australia and the world. Music became central to our epic family adventures, something Dad has often written about.
I’m so thankful to my parents for the gift of music, but I’m especially thankful to my Dad for something that became a Christmas tradition for many years.
Musically speaking, I came of age in the mid-late ’90s. It was an exciting time for music, especially alternative rock, but some of the bands I started listening to were a bit, shall we say, dark. Some of the messages in the music certainly were not uplifting for one’s soul, and looking back, my parents were concerned. Grateful for that too, now!
Parents, especially dads, have a critical role to play in setting and enforcing clear boundaries for their children. This is especially important for younger children, but this role changes as children get older. Thinking back to my teen years, and now having some teenagers of my own, I’ve noticed that positive guidance, rather than enforcement, works so much better as children mature.
When it came to my negative choices in music as a teenager, rather than trying to ban me from listening to dark music (which wouldn’t have worked anyway, since many of my friends were listening to the same music), Dad made it his mission to seek out positive music and, quite literally, lead me towards the light.
Sometimes, the best way to remove the negative is with a positive.
Throughout my mid-late teen years, every Christmas, Dad would gift me a new album (sometimes several) from a great, uplifting, often Christian artist. There were so many, and I didn’t fully understand it at the time, but some of those artists and their songs became favourites. I still listen to many of them today, and some of those songs have even made their way onto my daughters’ playlists.
Dads, if you can, do your best to choose the positive for your kids. Lead them, in love, towards the Light. Seek out the better way, and hopefully, you might even discover some great music on the journey.
If you enjoy music as much as I do, make sure you share it with your kids. My five daughters have certainly inherited the Marsh love for music, and thankfully, they’re constantly listening to and sometimes even composing and performing music.
We were recently enjoying some Christmas Carols together, and my daughters introduced me to Earth, Wind & Fire’s fantastic Classic Christmas Album. Their version of Joy to the World will get your toes tapping! With Christmas fast approaching, it’s the perfect time to give the gift of music.
Yours for the gift of music,