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As a father of three girls, 13, 11, and 9, you could say that pop music is a regular occurrence in my life. As a strategic planner and creative director in youth and digital marketing I'm certainly deep in popular culture and interested in music trends. But I think more importantly, I'm in tune with the importance of creativity in our culture.
All three of my girls are incredibly creative. Which I think isn't necessarily unique just to my girls (although I like to think they're special). But I think all kids are born with an amazing level of creativity which they lose over time as they get older and they experience the life pressures that dissuade them from their creative pursuits. Our school system still doesn't reward creativity the way it should. Arts aren't funded at the level of math and sciences, and the Common Core curriculum here in California seems to be sucking any creativity that was left in our school system. We still have our kids almost exclusively focused on math and sciences, despite many valuable career paths in creative fields.
Coming from the advertising industry, one thing I understand is the value of creativity in all of business and culture. Innovation in design and creativity is driving incredible value in our world and is highly sought after by the largest employers on earth. Ideas are worth something. There are definitely still some great things happening in education, like STEAM for instance, which gives kids an opportunity to learn how to be Makers. The Science Technology Engineering Architecture and Math curriculum teaches a more practical and creative approach to the sciences with a ton of real-world value. My 13 year old is learning how to use creative software and 3D printers in middle school, which is fantastic. But that only accounts for a small portion of her school week.
So I've been encouraging my girls to be Makers. I don't want them to just be passive consumers of content. I especially notice my 9 year old attracted to that. She likes to watch Minecraft fan videos, listen to fan Minecraft parody songs, and maybe sometimes she'll actually play Minecraft. There's not a lot of original creation there in her overall fandom of the IP outside of the times when she does use creative play within Minecraft. But that's where Minecraft is great – as much as she can consume content, she does have the ability to create too – and I keep asking her to make more incredible worlds and find ways she can subvert the Minecraft universe to create her own art in any way she can. Her older sister made a Minecraft world filled entirely with hundreds of whales. Which was amazing.
Which brings me to the GRAMMYs. Taylor, Ariana, Katy, Miley, Charli, Ellie, and Sia have been on repeat around here lately. Yes, we're on a first name basis. So you'd think we'd have some interest in watching the GRAMMYs, to see some of these artists outside of their pop songs and watch some of their performances in arguably, one of America's most important cultural events in a year. But I want my girls to be Makers. I want them to understand the value of creation, and to not just to consume culture but to contribute to it. It's not a desire to turn them into some kind of empty star or to chase fame. Quite the opposite. It's about finding their value in their original ideas and learning to uncover the creative opportunity that every one of us has, and most often waste. It's for self worth. It's for future potential. It's for just being awesome. As far as it goes for Emily, my musically gifted 11 year old, I'd rather see her behind the console, producing and writing for someone, than in front of the cameras.
So that brought us to the GRAMMYs. We decided to just forego it, and we spent our time in front of GarageBand instead. An acoustic guitar, the cheap USB keyboard from two Christmases ago, and a microphone. We learned how to set-up tracks, watched tutorials on how to get our vocals to sound "professional", and worked on writing and singing. In just one day Emily learned how hard it was to write a pop song and get it right, and I learned how much better she could make something when she made it her own. It's not perfect, the production is wonky, and there's stuff we couldn't make work the way we wanted in a day. But we had fun together and we made something that we could say was ours, instead of watching TV. #GirlsBeAMaker