Making music AND a family

Back in Toronto we first lived in a Victorian semi detached rowhouse down the road from the Art Gallery of Ontario. It was THE perfect location for us. We got to know every square inch of what would be our Toronto. We walked everywhere those first few years. Restaurants, museums, galleries, theatres, shops, parks, streetcars, subway - it was all nearby. 

Then we moved to a 1940's neighbourhood (still on the subway - couldn't give that up!) of red brick center hall homes. The girl was on the way soon and we needed a 'hood that was a little more family friendly. 

Next door was Marlowe. Let's recap - family neighbourhood, neighbour with two young sons. She was friendly and all that. You'd be forgiven for assuming just another nice neighbour.

But you know, assume nothing for my neighbour was someone who not only was creative but she was a musician. And not only an amateur musician but a professional musician who found an amazing way to integrate her love of music and performing WITH having a family.

And when I say professional I mean CD on iTunes, concerts, gigs, tv spots, international song writing awards - THAT kind of professional. The real deal.

Let's see how.

Marlowe-and-the-MiX

1. Who is in your family?

In my family there’s myself, my husband and my two, wonderful sons 10 and 8 years old.

2. How long have you been singing? Do you play any other instruments? What is your musical background?

I’ve been singing since I was 10 or 11 but it was all as a means to perform my songs. My true love is songwriting and the singing has come from that. 

My great-grandfather was a world-renowned Cantor and my dad had a rock band in the 50s called Al Stone and the Rockatones - they played all over Toronto. 

3. Is music something that you've always done?

I thank my father again for blaring his records every night when I was a really young girl just trying to get a good night’s sleep! I’m sure all that Leonard Cohen and Beatles music had something to do with my strong, songwriting beginnings at age 10. Other kids watched TV, I’d be down in my basement making music and dancing all night long.

When I was in high school I was in all the musicals and I even went to Ryerson University for Radio Television Arts so that I could get a degree in something that would keep me close to the Arts at all times.No matter what job I had after that, I always found a way to relate it back to music.

4. How do you balance music-making and parenthood? Both are big time commitments.

I came up with the idea of Marlowe & the MiX: pop concerts for families at 2 in the afternoon! I could still play the style of music I liked to write but everyone I knew could come and have a great time with their kids. 

I also have my kids "in the MiX". My older son loves to sing and is on many tracks on the CD. My younger son loves to dance so he's front and centre with my "AllStars" at every show. [as an aside - her CD is GREAT!]

5. Did you ever feel like quitting? And if so, what made you continue? 

I've never felt like quitting - I'm always craving doing more with my music and fitting it into any crevice of my life that I can.

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6. What inspires you musically and creatively?

Lately I've been getting most of my creative inspiration from my kids and my AllStar Fans. I see what makes their eyes light up and their bodies start moving and grooving and I take it from there. 

I've used my own kids' favourite things like rollercoasters and sports as jumping off points for songs. I also address important themes on the CD like self-esteem, inclusion and bullying because it's a part of every child's (and therefore every parent's) daily life. I felt it was my responsibility as a kids' performer to address the hard-to-talk about stuff too .

7. What music do you and your kids listen to?

My kids and I love listening to a good Top 40 countdown. Some songs I have to turn off due to the inappropriate content - That’s when I flip to the 1940s station. They think the music is soooo funny and bizarre sounding.

Marlowe-and-the-MiX

8. How have you incorporated music-making into your family life? What suggestions do you have for other families?  

A lot of parents ask me when their kids should start piano lessons or playing an instrument. My answer is usually around 7 or 8 years old, but my kids were asking for it much younger because we had a piano in our house.

I believe in following your children's lead when it comes to learning musical instruments but I have to admit I have used the words "quitting music lessons is not an option in our house". It's probably one of the things I've had to be most firm about with my kids. They show talent so I think it's worth it for them to pursue.

My belief is that every child has a spark in something that makes them extra special. Finding the spark is a large part of the journey. If you can already see a spark of any kind, nurture it and let it weave its way around your child. That's how creators are born and what makes for happy, satisfied adults down the road.

Before I give you my thoughts I MUST let you know that I started university as a music performance major. And also have played amateur jazz piano (the man plays jazz drums). I'm a big music hound so I am MORE than biased about the importance of music in our lives. And I agree with quitting not being an option. Yup, you heard that right - I completely agree. 

I LOVE her thought about every child having a special spark and that in nurturing that spark, you make a creator. But what about "quitting is not an option"? Would you let your kids quit? If your parents let you quit when you were a kid, what do you think about that now as an adult?

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Marlowe and the MiX's latest CD is available on iTunes here