Written by Michael Carpenter
I don’t remember a life without music. My first memories are of The Beatles breaking up, and their music has been constant. There was always music around my extended family’s house. And the radio was always on – classic AM radio taught me about songs and melody. My Dad loved the radio and I learned the value of a good hook by listening to him point them out to my brothers and I. My uncle had a guitar and used to play. I always wanted to play drums. And one day we just started learning. Using our ears and our brains. And for almost 40 years, playing music has been a constant source of joy to me, and I’m fortunate enough to be a singer-songwriter, a multi-instrumentalist, a record producer and a zillion other things related to music and creativity.
I thought a lot about the role of music in my kids’ lives before I even had them. I knew that I never wanted to force them towards music. Our attitude was always going to be to “lead them to it” and then let whatever happens, happen. So from the time my daughter was born 12 years ago, we just played music. Around the house. In the car. We regularly would have music on rather than TV. I rarely played an instrument around the house, but both my kids were exposed to recording studios at a very young age, and they’ve just become accustomed to that being a place where they go. They’ve become friends to my clients. They see these people and take in their experiences. They see people create and have an interest in it. Not because it’s what Dad does, but because they like music.
We always played a lot of variety of music too. But in my mind, it was always good songs. So they became exposed to a good sense of melody, and a good sense of variety at a young age, which has continued all the way through their lives. And I’m enjoying watching their tastes be refined, at the ages of 7 and 12. It’s not unusual to hear The Beatles followed by Emmylou Harris followed by AC/DC on their playlists! Being open minded about music and creativity is really important, and something we speak about often, especially as Miss 12 year old develops tastes that veer away from my own.
We sent Miss 12 year old to piano lessons a few years ago. She was actually really good. She loved the lessons, but hated the practice. So after 18 months of good solid grounding we gave her the choice and she decided to let them go. This was absolutely fine. She still enjoys playing a little, but it’s clearly not her thing. Mr 7 year old has developed a more defined interest. He asks a lot of questions about my work, and listens to music differently. He plays a bit of drums, very naturally with minimal instruction, and a bit of guitar too. He floats between them, and cricket, and Minecraft all the time at the moment, and that’s fine too. Playing a little has made him more interested in listening and vice versa. At that age, he is like a massive sponge of creative information. And I’m enjoying watching it develop naturally.
What has surprised me, is how curious they both are about my career. Unexpectedly, they are keeping a close eye on HOW I live my life. They see the joy and pride I have in my work. They see the respect I’ve earned in my clients and friends. They’re aware of my successes and failures. They’re aware of how my work comes from a place of passion. They’re also aware of how hard I work (“harder than the other Dads”), how often I’m away from home, and how we don’t have as much money as other families. We have long conversations about ‘choices’… how I choose to do this job, because it makes me feel like I’m doing what I’m meant to be doing. How it can help people achieve real dreams. About how much joy can be extracted from being creative. And that money, as important as it is, isn’t THE most important thing. That there are other things that have value far beyond the simple concept of money. That I’m making memories. For my clients. For the people I work with. For myself. And for them.
Michael Carpenter is a singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist/record producer/video maker/author/creative person based out ofLove Hz Studios in Leichhardt, NSW. He works long hours, but reckons that leaving his phone in another room when he’s at home changed his family’s life…