It Might Not Be Art -- But, Then Again, It Might Be

I was unconsciously humming a pleasant little tune when a woman in the next line started humming a line of harmony. We laughed. We couldn't figure out where it was from, but a young man who was bagging groceries knew immediately -- it was the theme to "Sonic The Hedgehog."
01/04/2013 11:26 am ET Updated Mar 06, 2013

The experience of raising kids is full of moments that become sensory memories that ultimately define who you are in certain situations or locations -- like grocery stores. One afternoon while waiting in line, my youngest son (then 3 years old) was getting ready to explode in an uncharacteristic tantrum at the end of a long day. Feeling the judgmental glare of everyone else in line, I hugged him close and whispered in his ear that I was tired and cranky, too. Then I told him that after we waited patiently for it to be our turn to pay, we'd go home, take a bath, get into our Barney jammies (him, not me) and have story time with Daddy while I made dinner so we could all sit together and talk about our day. He sighed and hugged me tight. Tantrum averted, I got applause.

Continuing in the spirit of TMI (too much information), I must confess that -- to the chagrin of those who live with me -- I hum. So, in that same grocery line on a different day, I was unconsciously humming a pleasant little tune. A woman in the next line started humming a line of harmony. We laughed. Perplexed, I admitted that I couldn't get the tune out of my head, but didn't know what it was from. She didn't know, either. However, a young man who was bagging groceries knew immediately -- two moms were humming the theme to "Sonic The Hedgehog." This moment did not get applause. In fact, another mother (with a toddler) offered a scowl of disapproval that we were "those" mothers who let their kids play video games so often that the music had subliminally embedded itself into our subconscious.

But, isn't that what all music does? Sounds that we perceive to be harmonious embed themselves into our psyche and become points of reference to the catalog of memories we accumulate throughout our lives.

One of the more delightful gifts this holiday season was a two-disc set of recordings by The London Philharmonic Orchestra. The interesting twist was that one of the most respected points of culture in the modern world was performing... are you ready? The Greatest Video Game Music! Is it safe to assume that Conductor Andrew Skeet and/or many of his classically trained musicians are "those" kind of parents who may have experience a similar moment while waiting on line at Trader Joe's?

Here's the amazing thing: when played with this level of technical proficiency and respect, "The Legend Of Zelda" sounds like a modern symphony. Perhaps our children are subliminally receiving a variation on the kind of music appreciation course that is no longer offered as part of the core curriculum in most school districts. Furthermore, what I discovered early on was that the motivation of helping Sonic accumulate gold rings did more for my disabled son's hand/eye coordination than five years of special education occupational/physical therapy had accomplished.

Unlike the moms who would stop a carpool fight by threatening "don't make me come back there," I subscribed to the theory that "music hath charms to soothe savage beasts" and would simply crank up my favorite Van Halen CD at top volume. If only The Greatest Video Game Music Vol. 1 & 2 were available to me then. Now, as we listen to these CD's in the mom-Jeep, being stuck in rush hour traffic isn't such an ordeal for any of us.