Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Glee Does Fun.

I'm a sometimes fan of Glee.  When the show first aired a few years ago I was a much bigger fan, but these days the plot lines are of little interest to me; more often than not I skip the storylines altogether and just watch the musical numbers online.  I realize there are a lot of Glee-haters out there, but here's why Glee is still a part of our family, at least when it comes to the musical performances:
  1. Yes, these 20-somethings-pretending-to-be-17-year-olds are singing and dancing to songs that were written and performed by other, often great, artists.  And yes, there are times when the Glee performances are "less than" the originals.  But because the show tackles songs from every genre and going back at least six decades, watching Glee has expanded my musical palate and contributed to my kids' very eclectic tastes in music.  They proudly love and can sing along with Lady Gaga, Journey, Adele, Queen, Beyonce, Kelly Clarkson, Bob Marley, Bruno Mars, Train, Billy Joel, and the Jackson Five.  (Thank goodness, because even Raffi's biggest fan can only take so much "Baby Beluga" before she jumps off a cliff into the deep blue sea.)
  2. I think a lot of us have dreamt about "the spotlight" in one form or another.  I've been lucky enough to have experienced a couple of really powerful spotlight moments in my life.  Moments when the music I've made (my spotlight moments involve singing, as I've never been very good at dancing, playing an instrument, or acting) has made an impact.  Moments when, as the music I've made ends with a climactic flourish, I could feel the audience exhale in amazement before beginning their applause.  These moments, as anyone who's ever experienced one will tell you, are like a drug.  They fill your soul and swell your heart and light your nerves on fire, and they always - always - leave you wanting more.  I won't have any more of these moments in my life, but when I watch the musical performances on Glee I can imagine what those characters - and even those actors - must feel and for a few minutes I appreciate the warmth of the spotlight once again.
  3. Joining the show choir or landing the lead in the musical is not always a stepping stone on the path to high school popularity, especially for boys.  Sadly, I've watched many musically talented young men shy away from participating in these activities because singing "Oklahoma" and square dancing on stage in front of the entire school aren't considered "cool".  I want Will especially to see the high school boys on Glee singing and dancing and loving it (Will only watches the musical performances, so he has no idea that the Glee characters are also dealing with teen pregnancy and homophobia and eating disorders); he may be years away from high school, but I don't think it's too early to teach Will that "cool" is more about accepting who you are and doing what makes you happy than it is about being popular.    
  4. The movie "Mr. Holland's Opus" is a powerful story about one man's struggle to do it all - to provide for his family, to connect with his son, and to leave his musical mark on the world - in the face of challenge and compromise.  I rarely watch the movie in its entirety because I really dislike Richard Dreyfuss (who plays Mr. Holland) as an actor, but I periodically watch clips and pull up quotes because I believe the movie to be one of the greatest theatrical tributes to music - and music educators - ever made.  Mr. Holland's justification for his slightly unorthodox teaching methods is one of my top 10 favorite movie quotes of all time and is certainly my favorite line from this movie: "I will use anything within my power, whether it be the Beatles, Beethoven, or Billie Holliday, if I think it will help these kids learn to love music."  Even if it means downloading every Glee song (well, not EVERY Glee song - we had to pass on Katy Perry's "Last Friday Night" for obvious reasons), buying all of the Glee CDs for the kids to listen to in the car, and then actually listening to all of the Glee CDs in the car - over, and over, and over again - I will do the same for my children.
A few weeks ago, the cast of Glee "rocked out" (Will's words) to "Some Nights" by Fun.  I accidentally deleted the episode from our DVR, but was lucky enough to find the clip on YouTube.  I can't watch this performance without getting chills, not only because the music is fantastic - talk about solid harmonies - but because it makes Will smile like nothing else.

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