Born to be groupies?
Girls, boys and rock ‘n roll: it’s a combination that works at any age, says Karin Schimke.
At my daughter’s seventh birthday party were 12 other 7-year olds – all girls – and 4 10-year-old boys - my son and his crew.

The latter spent all morning in the bedroom playing the opening chords of Smoke on the Water over and over again. This band idea seems to be taking shape: the air guitars have morphed into real guitars. I can’t wait for the opening chords to morph into the full song.

After the birthday picnic and before the games, the boys hustled all the girls into the house. Adam was on dustbins (as in, Adam was on drums) wielding something that looked like a mast from the plastic pirate ship and a stray knitting needle. Greg was on electric guitar. Oliver was the lead singer, and Luke hit the play button on the CD player.

An animated and lip-synched version of Green Day’s 21st Century Breakdown was performed before the stunned eyes of 13 girls, only 2 of whom were responding in any way, swaying slightly in the otherwise motionless crowd.

“Hhmm,” I thought. “This is going down like a lead balloon.”

Adam had a solo on the drums (boy, I wish I could be Green Day’s drummer for just one day), and Greg did a few convincing circles with his arm at the dramatic string moments.

The girls continued to look nonplussed.

Oliver, after his initial bravado, ended up standing with his hands behind his back looking at the ceiling, rather more the pained poet than the rebellious rocker. But as the long, long song drew into its third quarter he seemed to warm to his audience’s apparent numbness and started using the fist microphone he’d been hiding behind his back. He opened his mouth wider. He bent over backwards on the long notes. His dorky outfit and flat, swimming-pool hair-do didn’t seem quite so noticeable anymore.

The song reached a crescendo and then died dramatically. The boys’ motions calmed timeously. Luke hit the stop button. Silence descended. It was a long silence. It was an embarrassed silence.

Then, without warning, the girls erupted as though all their switches had been flicked simultaneously. They jumped up and down. They screeched. They clapped. They threw their arms up in the air and danced around. 13 screeching girls in a closed room. It was deafening.

The mothers threw one another wide-eyed looks over the heads of the bobbing, screaming audience.

“Where did they learn that?” one of them asked us all afterwards.

Oh, the magic of music. It’s so, well, hormonal, isn’t it?

How do your kids respond to music?

Read more by Karin Schimke

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