“Music doesn’t lie. If there is something to be changed in this world, then it can only happen through music.” - Jimi Hendrix
I was thinking of taking them to King Tut.
The exhibit was a big deal when I was a kid and was back in town after 35 years 1. But to be honest, it kind of sucked when I was 8 and I gurantee my kids would’ve been bored in a matter of minutes. I guess it could’ve been a teaching opportunity, but what would they really learn? And what could I add? 2
Then it hit me: what they really need to learn is something they can use in life and a subject I carry a PHD in 3:
Rock n’ roll.
And just like that – King Tut was out and a trip to the Experience Music Project was in. An education in Hendrix, Nirvana and AC/DC is what they would get on a summer’s day in Seattle. There would be no tests, but failure wasn’t an option.
Taking a seven year old to any museum can be tough, but the other two were the perfect ages (12 & 13) to start understanding the history of rock. Girl #1 was stoked and Boy #1 is pretty much up for anything all the time. The building also sells itself — it’s just the right amount of crazy to house a bunch of mentally confused artists who made some of the greatest music the world will ever experience.
They rotate the main themes regularly and Jimi Hendrix, AC/DC and Nirvana were on display this summer. Three artists who have a stable foothold in my collection. We talked about why the music was made, the art behind it and how it allowed people to communicate when they feel they didn’t fit in. It gave them a voice. We also spoke a lot about the importance of finding that one thing that makes you happy. The one thing that gets you out of bed in the morning when the world feels helpless and dark.
We talked about how you can’t live without passion. You can be breathing, but you can’t be living.
What blew their mind most about the exhibits were:
1) Kurt Cobain’s canned meat collection. This display included canned elephant, Scotch haggis and meat pudding that he found while on tour. Creepy, but great for school lunches.
2) That the Nirvana drummer is the singer in Foo Fighters. Wasting Light has been in heavy rotation in my car for about a year and a half. They know the words and play air drums. They were shocked which was funny.
3) The Jimi Hendrix display with all his guitars, outfits and accompanying iPod commentary. Blew Girl #1′s mind. It seemed like everything about it came from another planet. They were all taken by Jimi’s version of the Star Spangled Banner at Woodstock.
4) The video for Nirvana’s Heart Shaped Box which was playing on a loop in the Nirvana exhibit. If you don’t remember it, well, it’s creepy. Really creepy. It didn’t help that the little five year old girl in the clan outfit was a dead-ringer for our next-door neighbor.
5) The entire family performing Purple Haze in the museum’s created studio — complete with crowd noise and a hell of a nice drum set under the band name of “Cannibal Mouse.” 4
6) The old AC/DC pics freaked Girl #1. Really.
I’m serious about our kids being educated in what you’re passionate about and meaningful subjects they won’t find in school. If we leave all education to schools our kids will miss out on a lot of what life has to offer. We’re one step away from art, sports and music being gone from school, which is a crime. The difference between a good education and a great one is parental involvement.
It was a day to remember and not just the same old museum stuff where you feel you’re force feeding your kids “culture.” They could tell this was something I really loved and they fed off that. They don’t have to love it, but it opens their minds. And while all three exhibits had central figures who died early and of seriously bad circumstances … they still outlived King Tut.
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