How My Parents Helped Me Discover My Inner Song

By: Liv Lane, Guest Blogger

My dad was good at so many things – but, with all due respect, he stank at music. I mean, he was a fan of great music, but he could never play it, and he definitely couldn’t carry a tune. We often razzed him, in fits of laughter, about his oddball singing; he rarely sang more than every third or fourth word in a song. Do you know how weird a song sounds with only a quarter of its lyrics!?

Last fall, my dad passed away. During his memorial service, we included lots of songs he adored, including Hey Jude by his beloved Beatles. I realized, as that familiar tune played, I was only able to sing every third or fourth word through my tears – and it made me smile to think he was likely singing along with me, perfectly in sync for once.

My dad was well-aware of his musical shortcomings, but that didn’t stop him from supporting my musical interests. Growing up, I sang all the time – in choirs, in plays, on the backyard swing – and played piano, too. Music was one of many activities I loved, and my parents found plenty of opportunities for me to play and learn, with my musically-inclined, art-loving mom shuttling me everywhere I needed to go and helping me excel.

But by the time I was a tween, it was clear to them that making music had become more than just a pastime for me. I wanted to play it, compose it, perform it whenever I could. Though there wasn't language for it yet, my dad recognized a “spark” in me – a passion that lit me up from the inside out. He couldn’t really relate to that passion or teach me any new tricks, but he knew his added support was important for me to flourish.

Above: Liv and her dad, Peter Benson, at her high school graduation.  

It required him to leap outside his comfort zone. For years, he'd connected with me over sports (one of his passions), from coaching my softball teams to playing doubles tennis tournaments together. To champion my musical dreams was, in my mind, a total rock star move. He drove me to guitar lessons and took me to music shops to browse the electric guitars and amps. He never rolled his eyes or questioned my dream of leading an all-girl rock band – or even marrying Jon Bon Jovi. In fact, when I was 14, he took me to my first Bon Jovi concert! He was always happy to listen to my radio stations or cassette tapes in the car, unlike most of my friends’ parents. And when my proud papa bragged to friends and colleagues about my love of songwriting, one music-savvy co-worker offered to produce a demo tape for me at a real recording studio. Dad made sure it happened and, at age 16, it was a total dream come true for me.

Ultimately, I didn't pursue a career in music, but channeled that spark into other things. Today, I love setting the tempo and tone of an inspiring speech. I love composing a memorable, meaningful blog post. I love helping others do what makes their heart sing. All because I got the chance to ignite that spark as a teen, supported by parents who believed in the music within me. One in-tune mama and one rock star dad.

Interested in learning more about how you can help your own child ignite his or her spark? Attend our free Making Sparks Fly webinar, hosted by Liv Lane, on September 12! Learn more here.

I totally respected your dad and his work! He faithfully did his research and shared the results so that those who had a love of young people who wanted them to thrive could be most effective.

Many Blessings!
Melinda Prunty, Director
Office for Youth Ministry
Diocese of Owensboro (KY)

Dear Liv,
What a beautiful tribute to your dad and wonderful example of an asset-building spark champion.

I plan to use this story at an upcoming workshop I’ll deliver in Marana AZ on Oct 5. Coming just days after the 1st anniversary of Peter’s passing it will do my heart good and allow me to pause and smile as I think of my dear mentor and friend singing Hey Jude—all the words : ) —at the top of his lungs. Flora Sanchez

5

I loved reading this essay about Sparks by Peter Benson’s daughter, Liv. I’ve never met Liv, but I have met her dad, Peter, and he was an amazing man. So, we spread the word about Sparks here in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan whenever we have the opportunity. I love to share the idea with parents and help them think about helping their children find Sparks champions besides themselves. Liv, it is great to see you carrying on your dad’s great work. Thank you!! (Judy Watson Olson, Great Lakes Center for Youth Development)

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