A Tribute to Charlie Hebdo: Edith Piaf sings “No, je ne regrette rien” (No, I regret nothing)

Note: If you are new to my blog, please also see last week’s post, “Kids, Music and Why I Started This Blog”.

Your Weekly Listen for 1/13/15 is a tribute to all who lost their lives defending free speech in Paris last week: the legendary Edith Piaf singing “Je ne regrette rien” (I regret nothing).

Édith Piaf was an iconic French singer and a symbol of French passion and tenacity. Affectionately called “La Môme Piaf” (“The Little Sparrow”), she was born in Paris in 1915. She rose to fame as a singer of French art songs during World War Two, and after the war her reputation spread around the world. She also allegedly assisted in preparing false documents for a number of French soldiers so they could escape imprisonment by the Nazis. She died in France in 1963.

“Because my life, my joys
today begin with you.”

The song, “Non, je ne regrette rien, was composed by Charles Dumont, with lyrics by Michel Vaucaire. It was written in 1956, and spent seven weeks atop the French Singles & Airplay Reviews chart.

Kids, Music and Why I Started This Blog

Your weekly listen for 1/6/14 is me ranting a bit.

I have always loved music and dancing. In fact, here’s me, back in 1970 (this was my first birthday).

Charlotte's first birthday

According to my Mom, I was dancing to my favorite song, which was “Down On the Corner” by CCR. I did listen to some “kids’ music” as a child, but I don’t really remember any of it. I remember Melanie, CCR, Cream, Buddy Holly, The Stones, Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, the Chieftans, Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos, Vivaldi’s “Four Season”, to name a few. My parents, like most people in those days, had a stereo set with a turntable in their living room (also depicted here), and it was customary to put music on to set a “mood” whenever you had company over, or just anytime you felt like it. We often listened to records together in the evenings.

At age twelve, I became interested in the Beatles, and started guitar lessons. As a teenager, I got involved in my local ‘punk rock’ community. I often ‘jammed’ or shared songs with others, and I went to see a lot of teen bands play at underage venues. Later I pursued a career in modern dance, which involved an active interest in music as well. And today, I sing and play with friends, alone and with my daughter. I listen to music online and in the car, and I still have a stereo in my living room.

I have always loved music and have listened to music on a daily basis throughout my life.

When I first began teaching guitar, I mistakenly assumed that what is normal for me is normal for everyone. But in my time as a music teacher, it has become clear to me that this is not the case. When starting with a new guitar student, I would often ask, “Who are your favorite musical artists?” Sometimes, I would get a cogent answer, but more often than not, I would get a blank stare.

“I mean, what songs do you like?” I would continue, thinking perhaps the question had been unclear or the student was just feeling shy. Another blank stare or mumbled “I don’t know”. “Well, how do you listen to music?” I’d ask, “Do you listen to CDs? The radio? What songs are on your iPod?”

Gradually, through much probing, the truth would emerge: that this aspiring music student didn’t really listen to music AT ALL.

I must pause here to emphasize this point:

You need to listen to music before you can play it.

Imagine someone trying to write an essay, without ever having read a book. How can you play music, if you don’t know what music is supposed to sound like? And how can you be motivated to practice if you don’t have a goal in mind of how you want your playing or singing to sound? Before you undertake to learn a musical instrument, discover what inspires you. What music is beautiful to you? What music makes you want to dance, or laugh, or cry? A student of music should spend as much time listening as playing.

And that’s why I started this blog.

This blog is a curriculum for a music listening education.

Just imagine, for a moment, what a rich world of music lovers and players we could foster if every child was introduced to music from around the world and across the musical spectrum? How many more of those kids would want to learn an instrument? How many would spontaneously want to start bands at school, or jam and play music with their friends, without being hounded to practice? I believe, even more important than teaching your child to play an instrument, you can enrich their lives by simply exposing them to music on a daily basis in your home.

So far, in this, my music-video-centered blog, I have featured country, folk, rock, contemporary acoustic, blues, African, classical, prog-rock, improvisational, musical theatre, and Turkish folk music. My mission is to expose you and/or your young music student to every genre of music under the sun, and such a variety of exceptional artists as to enrich the most sophisticated of musical palettes. And the best part is, your little one can start this music listening program as early as the day they are born!

It’s also never too late to start. That’s why this blog is for all ages … newborn through retirement age. Just scroll back through the posts and see for yourself. 🙂