In this edition of Great Moments in Parenting, Victor Bailey, a 30-year-old dad from Philadelphia and audiophile, musician, and overall music nut who runs his own music blog, helped his 7-year-old master a Metallica song. He gave his son a guitar at age 4 and just a few weeks ago, his son mastered ‘Nothing Else Matters’ by Metallica. Here, Victor tells Fatherly how his son learned so much more than how to play a song.
I was raised by music. My mom was a singer, my dad was a pianist, and my granddad was a guitarist. This environment lead me to a life-long obsession that also became my primary source of income, from the music blog I run.
I wanted my son, who is 7 right now, to have that same thing growing up. So, since he was born, I’ve been playing music in my house. He’s been around it. He had a guitar in his hand by the time he was 4. I just let him play around — he wasn’t learning music or songs per se, but he was messing around. We started doing structured lessons by the time he was five.
I was his primary music teacher, like we did in my family growing up. We started with some really simple stuff, like Smoke on the Water. Then, it got more complicated. He’s got this love for Metallica that I encourage (I like Metallica myself). We started practicing a Metallica song called ‘Nothing Else Matters.’ He had picked this song himself. I thought, of course. So we started practicing in April or March. We had these weekly jam sessions, and he’d practice a lot on his own.
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It took about two and a half or three months to get him to where he could play the full song. He had as much background as a 7-year-old can have in music; meaning, he had much of the fundamentals down coming into learning how to play this song. And one day, he had mastered it. He blossomed.
I was shocked when he played it through. He’s good, but it was one of those things that hit me, like, ‘Wow, the work is finally paying off.’ I had seen improvements, so I knew it was coming, but the moment it finally happened, when he mastered the song, I was just blown away. My son was smiling for the whole day. He loved it! He knows not to throw his guitar down, but it was totally a mic drop moment for him. He made me take him out to eat after that. It was a good day.
The bonus to this all is that he can see how his hard work really pays off. The song is a tangible product of his efforts. Giving him access to music and the ability to play it is super important. But, really, more important than that is the overall big lesson that he can do whatever he sets his mind to, and he’s capable enough and smart enough that he has the potential to accomplish any task that he works at. My son is into the thing I’ve dedicated my life to. I can’t help but be a little bit proud.