Finding Your Tune

Music has always played a special role in bringing families closer together

There is never a dull or quiet moment in the De Feo household. Speakers are always on, playing music from an array of popular artists: older artists and bands like AC/DC, Led Zeppelin and the B-52s, to newer artists like Lil Uzi Vert and Blue Face.

“There’s always music playing in our house,” senior Dominic De Feo said. For Dominic and his family, music has always been something that has brought them together. 

“We don’t really argue about the type of music we listen to, which allows us to connect, despite our differences, and evolve our music tastes,” Dominic De Feo said.

Music creates a light-hearted atmosphere in the De Feo household. While the family appreciates and respects each other’s music tastes, there are small moments filled with light teasing too good to pass up. 

“They call some of the 80s heavy metal bands I like my silly little bands,” Dominic’s father, Jon De Feo said.

For some families, however, this is not the case. There is a clear distinction between music to listen to with family and music to listen to with friends or by yourself. “Whenever [my family] goes somewhere in the car and I play my music, [my parents] start hating on it and tell me to change it,” junior Ayush Singh said. 

Whether or not music taste is shared between family members, students and families share an appreciation of music and its diversity.  

Whenever [my family] goes somewhere in the car and I play my music, [my parents] start hating on it and tell me to change it.”

— Ayush Singh

For those who love music, their love for music stemmed from a young age, and in some cases, even before they were born. Sophomore Hannah Huang remembers classical music being part of her life ever since the start of time. “When I was in my mom’s womb, she would teach piano every day, so [even then, I was listening] to classical music,” Hannah Huang said. “I think that’s stuck with me since I play the violin now.” 

Similarly, classical music has served as a way of joining multiple generations within a family. Junior Rebecca Helft recalls times where she would go to the ballet with her grandparents. “I was exposed to [classical] music from [my grandparents]  and garnered my love for ballet and the fine performing arts from them,”  Rebecca Helft said.

Music in a home has evolved into a simple means of preserving family memories. Sophomore Anna Van Riesen and her family typically enjoy listening to their music separate from each other. Nevertheless, there are a few moments that stand out and create small pockets of joy for the Van Riesen family.

Van Riesen has an older brother named Josh who was diagnosed with autism and loves sweet melodies with strong beats from children’s songs. Listening to Josh’s music as a family is one of the many ways the family bonds with each other. “The lyrics have kind of become a shared family joke or memory,” Anna Van Riesen said.

Our family is a lot more [of an] ‘experience our own music with our own headphones’ kind of family. I kind of wish that were not true.”

— Susan Van Riesen

Not all families enjoy listening to music together. In the Huang household, the newer sounds of modern rap, pop and indie music are enjoyed by both Hannah and her brother Jeremy, but their parents do not share their love for these genres. “They think [our music] is loud and our tastes in music are trash,” Jeremy Huang said.

Likewise, when Rebecca’s dad, Ryan Helft, was in the fourth grade, he had his first exposure to hard rock: a friend of his gifted him Led Zeppelin’s fourth album on an audio cassette tape and another gave him an audio cassette tape of one of the Hooligans’ albums. “I loved it immediately,” Rebeccas’s father said. “My mother hated it immediately.”

This experience growing up caused Ryan’s music taste to be heavily influenced by friends and external factors, but it also allowed him to gain a new understanding of music. “I think my dad really learned to be open minded about one’s music tastes,” Rebecca Helft said.

He may not appreciate musical theater as much as his daughter, but he will enjoy the music alongside her. He is always glad to be in her presence, and he loves seeing Rebecca develop her own musical tastes, just as he did when she was her age.

Echoing Ryan’s sentiment, Jon has never suppressed his children’s musical journeys. In fact, he has always encouraged it. With diverse music constantly on shuffle, the De Feo kids were exposed to multiple genres of the musical world at such a young age, getting the best of all worlds. This broad exposure aided in the development of their current musical interests.

“I think our [family’s] love for music and the fact that it is on in the house all the time as opposed to the TV has definitely influenced, if not their love for music, definitely their interest in music,” Jon De Feo said.

On the opposing side, besides listening to Josh’s music, the Van Riesen household tends to keep to themselves in regards to music. 

They think [our music] is loud and our tastes in music are trash.”

— Jeremy Huang

Each member of the family has found their own way through the music world creating a diverse spectrum of musical tastes within the family. “Our family is a lot more [of an] ‘experience our own music with our own headphones’ kind of family,” Anna’s mom, Susan Van Riesen said. “I kind of wish that were not true.”

Of course, there are many ways for families to include music into their life. One option is to give each family member the flexibility to develop their own musical tastes and explore the vast array of music available. Another option is to make sure that everyone is at ease at whatever level of musical discovery they are at. This is essential for a positive family relationship with music.

“Music is music and it doesn’t matter if the lyrics are harsh or whatever,” Jon De Feo said. “If something hits you and touches you and your soul by all means, listen to it.” 

Art by Reed Jadzinsky