I have a strategic plan for my daughter’s participation in music.  Guitar-playing daddy needs a proficient, live-in piano player.  We are in the stage of the strategic plan in which I’m seeking to develop her love for music in general.

We sang to Riley, instinctively, from the beginning.  Unfortunately for her, the earliest songs she heard me sing were diaper parodies like “Stinker-ma-rinky-dink, stinker ma-rinky-doo, I smell you.”  Mommy came to Riley’s rescue by singing hymns and nursery rhymes for comfort.

Singing became one of our most effective consoling strategies.  On two- or three-hour commutes to our parents’ homes, we tried to hold off as long as possible before offering renditions of hymns, for which we could remember the lyrics.

Riley loves when I play the guitar around her.  Of course, the appeal to her is “helping” (that is, an excuse to drop guitar picks in the sound hole).  She doesn’t know yet, that the guitar routine is an exercise in bait-in-switch.  Someday, she will want to learn to play guitar; I will require her to learn the piano first.

Randall Goodgame and Andrew Peterson’s Slugs, Bugs, and Lullabies album was my daughter’s gateway drug to other forms of listening pleasure.  Confession:  I like it as much, if not more than, my daughter does.  It’s the perfect mix of songs for children, offering rudimentary biblical instruction, assuring children of their parents’ love, encouraging them to play, and evoking their laughter.


Somewhere along the way, Riley developed an insatiable love for the Jackson 5.  So, we frequent the best of album in the car, and a favorite evening treat is getting down to this classic performance.  And, yes, this two-left-footed, pop-music-hating geek tries out a few moves, too.


Recently, I realized the need to shape my daughter’s impressionable musical preferences (or I’ll be rocking out the Jackson 5 for the rest of my life).  I may have been inspired by this Bill Simmons column--where he, a lifelong Boston Celtics fan, teaches his daughter to dislike the Los Angeles Lakers (perhaps, with reprehensible pedagogical strategies).  So, enter The Head and the Heart.  We’ve added “Lost in My Mind” to our YouTube playlist, and Daddy puts on his best sales pitch before we listen to it.


I hope to pique my daughter’s interest in good music, but I also shamelessly admit that I want to steer her preferences.  By modeling excitement in quality music, I hope to preempt interest in womanizing, “gangsta” rap.

However, greater goals than making her a musician or influencing her tastes compel my musical interactions with my daughter.  My greatest musical aspiration for my daughter is that she will join me in the great multitude, singing, “Hallelujah! For the Lord, our God, the Almighty reigns” (Revelation 19:6).

To that end, I hope this final clip is a preview of coming attractions.