I decided that the best thing was to get Charlie some real training, maybe sign him up for a daycare-style music workshop where he could practice his craft and inevitably get discovered. Turns out, finding the ideal baby rocker workshop isn’t nearly as easy as I hoped. Googling the words “rock camp” and “babies” only led me to some very disturbing websites, like the one where I learned about a place in Rock Camp, Ohio where adults dress in diapers for “a night of suckling and spanking.” (If I have to know that exists, now you do too.) I did eventually find some actual music schools for kids, but most of them are age-centric. In New York alone, there’s the Blue Balloon Songwriting for Small People (ages 3 and up), Brooklyn Kids Rock! (ages 7 to 14), NYC Rock Camp (ages 10 to 17) and the Staten Island School of Rock (ages 5 and up), among many others.
Those that do cater to babies tend to emphasize the adorable over the authentic rock experience. The “Little Folks” project in Bloomington, Indiana has a music workshop for infants called “Hush-a-Bye,” which sounds about as exciting as spooning with Bon Iver. (They also have classes called “Songs for Better Behavior” and “Reuse, Recycle, & Rock Out!” Whatever rocks your cradle, hippie.) Monkey Music in Hertfordshire, England has music for babies from 3 months and up, but A) their website brags about “gentle songs”, which puts it in the “Hush-a-Bye” category, and B) they’re in England and I’m not making that commute until Charlie goes on his first U.K. concert tour. The website for a music education school called Kids Rock in Bonita Springs, Florida looked promising, especially the badass AC/DC font. But their infant classes are called “Music Pups.” so you already know it’s going to be more “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” than “Maggie’s Farm,” more “Hickory Dickory Dock” than “Blitzkrieg Bop.”
Sometimes if you want something done right, you’ve got to do it yourself. I started taking Charlie to a local Gymboree for their “Play & Music” classes. I knew going in that it wasn’t going to be the curriculum Charlie needed for his musical development — all that parachute waving/ hand clapping/ beach ball throwing bullshit is too David Lee Roth for my liking — but it seemed a good place to start making connections with other music-minded parents.
“Those that do cater to babies tend to emphasize the adorable over the authentic rock experience. The “Little Folks” project in Bloomington, Indiana has a music workshop for infants called “Hush-a-Bye,” which sounds about as exciting as spooning with Bon Iver.”
There’s a kid in Gymboree named Trevor around Charlie’s age, and he and Charlie have developed a fast friendship. They’re also both amateur drummers, which worries me. And I’ve said as much to Trevor’s dad. He seemed confused and defensive when I first approached him. “I’m not sure what you’re asking me,” he said.
“What if Trevor and Charlie start a band someday?” I told him. “They’re not going to have two drummers, are they? Unless they’re Genesis, and one of them is Phil Collins and the other is the backup drummer. I think we can both agree that Charlie is probably taking lead vocals, and he’s obviously the best drummer in Gymboree, no offense to Trevor.”
“I’m not sure if we-”
“All I’m saying is, maybe you think about getting Trevor an acoustic guitar. Just see how he does with it. The band doesn’t have a guitarist yet.”
“Exactly! We’ve got to get moving on this before they go to pre-school and get distracted with academics.”
I’ve had Trevor and Trevor’s dad over to the house a few times, and the old man is slowly coming around to my way of thinking. We disagree on a lot of things, like what the as-yet-unformed band’s name should be, and who gets the lion’s share of the songwriting credit, and whether that chubby, red-faced kid named Max — the one in Gymboree who’s always “getting over a cold” — could have a certain John Entwistle-esque aptitude for bass guitar or will never be more than a roadie. And don’t get either of us started on genres.
“I’m thinking country punk,” I suggested while pouring Trevor’s dad more wine. “Like the Misfits, but doing Hank Williams songs.”
“So, Uncle Tupelo basically,” he sniffed.
“Oh come on, that was twenty years ago. Who’s doing music like that anymore? And if you say the Jayhawks, I will punch you in the mouth.”
“Why do they need to be so fringe? What’s wrong with being commercial? The world could use another Black Keys.”
“Don’t you mean another White Stripes? I thought you had a problem with derivative.”
We opened up two bottles of wine that night. There was a lot to discuss. Trevor and Charlie mostly stayed out of it. They were upstairs in Charlie’s room, giggling at private jokes, doing whatever it is that babies do.