One day as a grown-adult, I happened to be traveling in the car with my mother. As usual, I took control of the radio when it dawned on me I had no idea what music my mother preferred. As a child, my father controlled the radio. As teenagers, my sisters and I controlled the radio dial. I had never seen my mom take responsibility for the radio selections. “Mom, what kind of music do you like?” I asked. She honestly could not answer the question. Thinking back on my own experiences, I recalled many car rides with my own step-sons who always enjoyed sharing their favorite playlists with me. I wasn’t a huge fan of their music but the exposure to the new styles was always interesting and it was a bonding opportunity with them. However, a large part of my professional life was spent in a car during long commutes where I explored musical genres for my own personal satisfaction. I also sang and played in many different musical groups which influenced my tastes. My mother never had those opportunities.
Several weeks later, I received a phone call from her. “Alan Jackson,” she said. I was bit perplexed at first as to what she was talking about until she continued. “I like Alan Jackson. That’s the music I like.”
My own musical preferences are very eclectic. I tend to like songs I associate with pleasant memories regardless of the musical genre but I can almost always tell if I will like a brand new song within the first few opening notes. I have no idea how this is possible but it is true. My very favorite songs I know within a few notes of hearing them for the very first time. While researching, I found some very interesting studies regarding styles of music and how they relate to our own personalities. It is clear, music is important to us but exactly how, is very complicated. There appear to generally be 4-5 major categories. I might be defined as a sophisticated-campestral with a touch of rebellious thrown in for good measure. Here is an excerpt from the article:
“It seems reasonable to suppose that music preferences are shaped by psychological dispositions, social interactions as well as exposure to popular media and cultural trends. Thus, preferences for a particular style of music may vary as a function of personality traits, social class, ethnicity, country of residence, and cohort, as well as the culture-specific associations with that style of music.”
Each time our identity changes, parents to empty-nesters, employed to unemployed, students to employees, the one constant is our self. It’s important we understand who we are, at our core. What makes us happy? What fulfills us? Just like my mom, it’s never too late to discover yourself. So today I ask, what music do you like? How much of what you like was influenced by others? Have you always liked the same styles of music? If you are unable to answer these questions, start exploring. Start listening to wide varieties of music. What is pleasing to you and why? What is not pleasing to you and why? Please share some of your favorites. Maybe we’ll all discover something new.