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Obscenity in today's pop music is a problem for this music teacher

kenny

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I teach guitar; some students are minors.
To keep them more engaged and interested I ask them to bring in songs they want to learn.
Of the 5 or so songs I pick the one with level-appropriate musical challenges.

Sometimes the lyrics or their videos contain sex, violence, drugs, the F-word etc. :think: :hand:
I always first privately show the parents the video and lyrics to get their approval.
Parents always thank me, and never yet has any parent said no to any song.

One long-time student is 17 years old now and I'm getting him to play guitar at a local open mic.
He wants me to play guitar too and his girlfriend to sing, since he doesn't, so she is suggesting songs they both like.

She wants to do, "Love on the Brain" by Rhianna.
Have you read those lyrics?
It's not just the 3 F-bombs, it sounds like it's about how much she loves the abusive relationship she's in. :eek-2:

To show the lyrics as you watch the video, click on the CC at the bottom.
If the lyrics don't appear click on the wheel thingie and turn captions on, and pick English.


If you can't turn the captions on, here are the lyrics:
https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/rihanna/loveonthebrain.html

Maybe I'm an old prude but I wouldn't let my teenage daughter sing this in a coffee house.
Kids may be present.

Of course I will ask the parents before going forward with this song, but what are your thoughts?
Ok or not okay?

I remember how upset parents got in the 1950s over the gyrating hips of Elvis.
Back in the 1920s the older generation was all bent out of shape when The Charleston dance became all the rage of the young folks.
Is resisting this "progress" futile?
 
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monarch64

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It's a beautiful song and I always sing along to it when it comes on the radio. It does deal with a difficult subject, and the language is colorful. At 17 (decades ago now for me) I certainly felt mature enough to handle such content. A year later I was in college writing papers about it in my women's studies class.

Question: what if he DID sing and had chosen this song? Would you be as hesitant if a male was singing the words? What if he had chosen another song with equally mature content and obscenities? Would it matter? Or is it the idea of a young woman singing the "f" word that seems inappropriate?
 

kenny

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Good question, Monnie.
Yes, I'd equally object to my 17 year old son singing those lyrics.

Males taking freedom and power away from females is rampant and is something to watch out for.

ETA:

Or is it the idea of a young woman singing the "f" word that seems inappropriate?
The main thing about all this that would scream "inappropriate" saying nothing to the parents.
I AM an adult paid to teach/supervise a minor so feel a responsibility to NOT be the one making the call on this.
I've never been a parent and err on the side of caution with kids.

And technically, legally, at 17 she is a girl not a young woman. ;-)
 
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moneymeister

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Well, 17 is rather borderline, and I would defer to the parents. I also wonder if a 17-year-old has the deep pipes and soul to carry that song off. Saying that these lyrics could have been my anthem in my 20's. Some women mature through the school of hard knocks. It is an honest and beautiful and a little broken. Except for the f word with a kid, I think it's okay. It isn't glorifying abuse.

Funny how fast 55 year old me snorts "Boy, bye". Learned those lessons well.

Edit: I think she'll respect you for checking in...you are doing the right thing to run it by the folks.
 

lyra

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That's a tough one. If the parents are okay with it, it's still fair for you not to be. You do have your own beliefs, and if it makes you uncomfortable, that's valid too. If I had a musically talented kid, I bet I would be more lenient on this stuff given that they are almost 18.
 

monarch64

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Good question, Monnie.
Yes, I'd equally object to my 17 year old son singing those lyrics.

Males taking freedom and power away from females is rampant and is something to watch out for.

ETA:



The main thing about all this that would scream "inappropriate" saying nothing to the parents.
I AM an adult paid to teach/supervise a minor so feel a responsibility to NOT be the one making the call on this.
I've never been a parent and err on the side of caution with kids.

And technically, legally, at 17 she is a girl not a young woman. ;-)
I definitely understand your instinct to defer to parents and to want to do what is appropriate. My thought is that this was SUCH a popular song, kids of all ages have heard it and either know the explicit version, not the radio edit, or are too young to understand the lyrics let alone the subtext. Can they not substitute words to make them more appropriate for all ages, or is authenticity the goal here?

Here's a wiki page on the song itself, pretty interesting: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love_on_the_Brain

ETA: here's a cover--this guy uses "ever-lovin" instead of M_____f_____, and "hurts" instead of f___.
 
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kenny

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... Can they not substitute words to make them more appropriate for all ages, or is authenticity the goal here?

Here's a wiki page on the song itself, pretty interesting: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love_on_the_Brain
Thanks.
ETA: LOVE that video you posted!


Actually, a year ago I was in a trio.
Our female lead singer did change the F-word to "love".
I'll have look up what the radio version is, since I never listen to radio.

I've passed this on to my student's mom, suggested substituting the word love, and asked her to contact the girlfriend's parents for a decision since I don't have their contact info.

Should I tell the kids I've done this?

Thanks all. :wavey:
 
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canuk-gal

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HI:

If memory serves Kenny, you've had this conundrum before....but I don't know what the outcome was from past posts... What worked...what didn't....new wine in old bottles.....

cheers--Sharon
 

Daisys and Diamonds

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I teach guitar; some students are minors.
To keep them more engaged and interested I ask them to bring in songs they want to learn.
Of the 5 or so songs I pick the one with level-appropriate musical challenges.

Sometimes the lyrics or their videos contain sex, violence, drugs, the F-word etc. :think: :hand:
I always first privately show the parents the video and lyrics to get their approval.
Parents always thank me, and never yet has any parent said no to any song.

One long-time student is 17 years old now and I'm getting him to play guitar at a local open mic.
He wants me to play guitar too and his girlfriend to sing, since he doesn't, so she is suggesting songs they both like.

She wants to do, "Love on the Brain" by Rhianna.
Have you read those lyrics?
It's not just the 3 F-bombs, it sounds like it's about how much she loves the abusive relationship she's in. :eek-2:

To show the lyrics as you watch the video, click on the CC at the bottom.
If the lyrics don't appear click on the wheel thingie and turn captions on, and pick English.


If you can't turn the captions on, here are the lyrics:
https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/rihanna/loveonthebrain.html

Maybe I'm an old prude but I wouldn't let my teenage daughter sing this in a coffee house.
Kids may be present.

Of course I will ask the parents before going forward with this song, but what are your thoughts?
Ok or not okay?

I remember how upset parents got in the 1950s over the gyrating hips of Elvis.
Back in the 1920s the older generation was all bent out of shape when The Charleston dance became all the rage of the young folks.
Is resisting this "progress" futile?
Jezz what an awful song
i don't listen to much 'modern music' because im really particular what i want to spend my time listening to
I don't listen to the radio (because they don't play enough of what i love) but we are quite sensored in my country on particular issues

i personally think a really good song writter can say alot more by what isn't actually said

i did certainty have sympathy for Rhiania a while back when her home situation was all over the 6pm news
regarding the F word ....hmmm
i don't think it should be on the radio before the time they allow that language on tv

and on a record (i still call them records) i think so long as its not over done and not used just for the sake of profanity
i mean almost all of us use it at some time or other
but just reading the lyrics i do not think this song is sending a good message to the nation's youth
 

kenny

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... but just reading the lyrics i do not think this song is sending a good message to the nation's youth
Agreed! ... especially for today's boys to hear.
The song could be interpreted: men abusing women is okay because deep down they actually like it.
 

kenny

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HI:

If memory serves Kenny, you've had this conundrum before....but I don't know what the outcome was from past posts... What worked...what didn't....new wine in old bottles.....

cheers--Sharon
Good memory.
You're right.

I'm trying to find the animated graphic music video in question back then.
 

Daisys and Diamonds

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i just listened to it
not my cup of tea at all
how do i get my 3min back ?
i really don't like hearing females saying MFer

i don't think your a prude either
maybe i am - no im not either !
but video's were alot better when i was 13 !
but its the parents paying your bill so i think your doing the right thing asking

off on a tangent but Kenny i am very impressed you teach music
i think teaching kids music and the arts is as important as the 3 Rs

i was really fortunate that my high school, despite being ultra sporty was also very musical and in our first year music was compulsory as was learning an orchestral instrument
sad the music HOD did not approve of the guitar so that was not on offer but lessons were in very small groups an hour a week with free tuition and only a refundable deposit for instrument hire, all it really cost was a music book

i think regardless of talent or dedication it taught everyone musical appreciation

plus we had a social studies teacher who played us alot of 1960s American bandstand

my private piano teacher let me choose what i wanted to learn because i played purley for my own enjoyment so i do love that your students seem to be able to do that as well

not everyone is going to be a concert pianist but everyone listens to music (i know of a deaf Bruce Soringsteen fan who can feel the vibrations of the music)

my piano teacher also taught guitar and she used to love shocking the boys by shredding like their rock gods

if i lived around the corner from you i would want you to teach me to be like Nils Lofgren because Nils taught me to respect the guitar

but i do not understand guitar tabs

anyway Kenny, keep up the good work
your doing good work !
 

kenny

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Thanks DD.
May I call you DD?

I also play piano and am quite a piano geek.
Before I could spell I wanted a piano more than food or water.
My earliest memory is of visiting the YMCA in Glenco IL, a lovely old building with a dark wood-panneled lounge with old men smoking cigars.
I made a beeline for the grand piano and picked out melodies.
I must have been little because I had to as and old fart to pull the piano bench out for me.

We were poor so I got a guitar for Christmas in the early 60s.
Mom used S&H Green Stamps.
I loved that thing, but now I understand it was actually a medieval torture device.
Entry-level guitars are SOOOO much better today.

Tonight I'm scoping out a new open mic in my town.
Not performing, just lurking.

I play James Taylor type music on the Guild D-55 acoustic guitar I bought in 1977.
Though very expensive, after 42 years it comes numbers out to only 4 cents per day. :dance:
 

Daisys and Diamonds

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Thanks DD.
May I call you DD?

I also play piano and am quite a piano geek.
Before I could spell I wanted a piano more than food or water.
My earliest memory is of visiting the YMCA in Glenco IL, a lovely old building with a dark wood-panneled lounge with old men smoking cigars.
I made a beeline for the grand piano and picked out melodies.
I must have been little because I had to as and old fart to pull the piano bench out for me.

We were poor so I got a guitar for Christmas in the early 60s.
Mom used S&H Green Stamps.
I loved that thing, but now I understand it was actually a medieval torture device.
Entry-level guitars are SOOOO much better today.

Tonight I'm scoping out a new open mic in my town.
Not performing, just lurking.

I play James Taylor type music on the Guild D-55 acoustic guitar I bought in 1977.
Though very expensive, after 42 years it comes numbers out to only 4 cents per day. :dance:
do you know this Kenny ?

your story reminded me of this.
how wounderful your mum was to get you a guitar

its just audio
about how his ma who brought him a guitar for Christmas
she took out a loan to buy it for him

and slightly oddly but none the less moving playing it on piano
 

kenny

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Thanks for the nice and touching song.
I had not heard that.
 

kenny

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Kenny, your moral compass is working perfectly.

Trust it.


p.s. I play a 1968 Martin D-12-35 w/ Brazilian rosewood back.. I started by singing Joni Mitchell in coffee houses....beautiful lyrics. so much for those days!
Thanks.

Awesome guitar, made one year before Martin stoped using Brazilian on their standard series.

I still perform some Joni, especially that song, "For Free".
Touching lyrics, haunting music.

 

OoohShiny

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Agreed! ... especially for today's boys to hear.
The song could be interpreted: men abusing women is okay because deep down they actually like it.
I totally understand your caution, Kenny, and you have sought the parents' views on the content of the song, but may I ask if you've sought the students' views?

Young adults are often very intelligent, perhaps even more so in terms of emotional intelligence in this modern age than us oldies ever were back in the dark ages, so discussing the actual content, overt meaning, subtext and potential interpretetions may help you find comfort while also giving them the chance to ponder and explore their feelings and understanding, and it could add depth to their own interpretation of the song (in all senses of the word) and raise awareness of abuse issues - after all, music is not just about (teaching of) technical skill, it is also about really knowing what you are singing about, so I don't think you should be afraid to add a 'discussion moment' to your lessons/homework :)
 

kenny

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I totally understand your caution, Kenny, and you have sought the parents' views on the content of the song, but may I ask if you've sought the students' views?

Young adults are often very intelligent, perhaps even more so in terms of emotional intelligence in this modern age than us oldies ever were back in the dark ages, so discussing the actual content, overt meaning, subtext and potential interpretetions may help you find comfort while also giving them the chance to ponder and explore their feelings and understanding, and it could add depth to their own interpretation of the song (in all senses of the word) and raise awareness of abuse issues - after all, music is not just about (teaching of) technical skill, it is also about really knowing what you are singing about, so I don't think you should be afraid to add a 'discussion moment' to your lessons/homework :)
Excellent point that had not occurred to me.
I plan to take your advice.
Thanks.
 

facetgirl

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Every now and then, while in the car, my daughters will put on a song like this and after its done, I ask them why they like the song. Then I ask if they like the message. Then I ask what they would do if they ever found themselves in a situation like that - and what a healthy relationship looks like to them. Best conversations - ever. And then I put on an Elton John song.
 

arkieb1

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I find the references to violence against women way more troubling than the language..... so this is a difficult one for me because would I want my son and his friends singing that song? No probably not, but, maybe this is a cultural thing, in Australia I remember being a kid in the 80s going to school dances and blue light discos (called that because they were local dances in safe spaces organised by police clubs) and yelling at the top of my voice the chorus; No way get @#$*ed, @#* off, to the song "Am I ever Going to See Your Face Again" (read this article);

https://www.theguardian.com/music/australia-culture-blog/2014/apr/15/australian-anthems-the-angels-am-i-ever-gonna-see-your-face-again


@jordyonbass - might also confirm that it's iconic to sing "Am I ever going to see your Face Again" and the F-bomb as loudly as possible in Australia at just about any venue and also I've lost count the amount of times I've sung along with friends loudly to Aussie band the Divinyls "I touch myself" out in public and Alanis Morrissette "You Ought to Know" both almost anthems for Aussie women.....


https://genius.com/Alanis-morissette-you-oughta-know-lyrics


What can I say, culturally Aussies swear a lot. I used to teach in public schools, most 15 to 18 year olds (and younger) choose not to swear around adults but it doesn't mean they don't around their peers. I play an online video game that in real time allows you to play with different people around the world to keep an eye on my son and who he virtually friends, and I hear the comments made by his 11 and 12 year old friends and the language a number of them use is totally inappropriate too. Not that it makes it right, I just know that is what occurs.

I've also heard American children around the same ages playing online swearing too, so it can't just be here. And I've heard a lot of teens listening to rap songs with language that is explicit, way worse than any of these songs. Again, not that that makes it right, but children these days because of the internet, probably hear and see and understand a lot more than we give them credit for....

And thinking about it, lots of different generations push the boundaries when it comes to song lyrics and inappropriate content. I know mine did.....
 
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kenny

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Thanks all for the responses.
I'll click the links later when I can and respond.

But this thread is less about what kids do than about what a music teacher (or any other non-parent overseeing kids) should permit minors to do under her/his watch.

I realize the world is changing ... same as it ever was, to quote that Talking Heads song. ;)2
 

arkieb1

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As a former high school teacher I wouldn't permit that song under my watch, so from that POV I think most people would agree with you. But as a teen that sang the above song and a mother who (as a former teacher) pays attention to what kids listen to and say the disparity between what we think is best and what actually occurs would possibly shock some parents/people.
 

arkieb1

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Oh dear @arkieb1 - I'm guilty of singing those extra words at the top of my lungs after a bunch of beers when I was younger :lol:
That's the point - when we were teens and in our 20s I'd guess most Aussies have done that. I remember singing those words as a kid at school dances. They tried to edit out the swear words by lowering the volume, and a whole bunch of teens just sang them in time at their top of their voices anyway, to the red faces of some of the teachers and parents at that dance/disco.... So I guess the person that decided to play that song to all the kids is at fault. I remember when they played that song at Blue Light Discos full of kids and that was run by our local police.

Bad judgement? Probably, but still a whole lot of fun....
 
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jordyonbass

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And Kenny, I understand your concern here. I listen to some music that many would consider to be on the borderline between creativity and vulgarity, however I am not introducing my son to any of that for a long time. I think that if I can develop his appreciation for musical skill first then his focus will not be solely on the lyrics like it is for many people, at least that's what happened for me.
I never knew that Cannibal Corpse were essentially writing the story to a horror movie every time they wrote the lyrics to a song until I saw some interviews and then read their lyrics. The guys in the band say they make themselves laugh with how absurd some of their lyrics are, they've said before that they are all horror movie fans and don't really believe any of the stuff they write.

I think that with the modern media, kids can learn context around the lyrics behind their favourite songs easier than I could as a kid so it helps temper vulgarity. But it's also not up to you to ensure all of this, it's the parents job so I don't blame you for just keeping clear of it altogether as a music teacher. You're there to teach music theory, not explain context.
 
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princessandthepear

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My SO also received a an S & H green stamp guitar from his mother when he was nine! He was inspired by Joe Cocker and Jim Croce. Currently he plays a midrange Martin and does a lot of Eric Clapton covers at open mic nights.
Back to the subject at hand, you are being perfectly reasonable to run the song by their parents. People have so many different life experiences and values which color their interpretations of what is acceptable.
 

Daisys and Diamonds

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I find the references to violence against women way more troubling than the language..... so this is a difficult one for me because would I want my son and his friends singing that song? No probably not, but, maybe this is a cultural thing, in Australia I remember being a kid in the 80s going to school dances and blue light discos (called that because they were local dances in safe spaces organised by police clubs) and yelling at the top of my voice the chorus; No way get @#$*ed, @#* off, to the song "Am I ever Going to See Your Face Again" (read this article);

https://www.theguardian.com/music/australia-culture-blog/2014/apr/15/australian-anthems-the-angels-am-i-ever-gonna-see-your-face-again


@jordyonbass - might also confirm that it's iconic to sing "Am I ever going to see your Face Again" and the F-bomb as loudly as possible in Australia at just about any venue and also I've lost count the amount of times I've sung along with friends loudly to Aussie band the Divinyls "I touch myself" out in public and Alanis Morrissette "You Ought to Know" both almost anthems for Aussie women.....


https://genius.com/Alanis-morissette-you-oughta-know-lyrics


What can I say, culturally Aussies swear a lot. I used to teach in public schools, most 15 to 18 year olds (and younger) choose not to swear around adults but it doesn't mean they don't around their peers. I play an online video game that in real time allows you to play with different people around the world to keep an eye on my son and who he virtually friends, and I hear the comments made by his 11 and 12 year old friends and the language a number of them use is totally inappropriate too. Not that it makes it right, I just know that is what occurs.

I've also heard American children around the same ages playing online swearing too, so it can't just be here. And I've heard a lot of teens listening to rap songs with language that is explicit, way worse than any of these songs. Again, not that that makes it right, but children these days because of the internet, probably hear and see and understand a lot more than we give them credit for....

And thinking about it, lots of different generations push the boundaries when it comes to song lyrics and inappropriate content. I know mine did.....
i converse with a lot of Americans online.
we (im across the ditch from you in NZ) defiantly swear more in everyday conversation and i must say i have to try extra hard here not to swear because its pretty normal on my Bruce Springsteen forum

but i also have worked almost all of my working life around farmers or builders - who did use to try on occasion to watch their language around me if they remembered

i remember that divinyls - that particular song was very catchy

i really do not like all the violence and especially violence towards woman in popular culture
 
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