by Anna Ferraro
“I want classical music to be a lifelong experience for my kids,” said David McGraw, father of twin boys, Wyatt and Wesley. In the 2nd grade, Wyatt and Wesley are the fortunate children of two parents that value classical music in education. Each week, their mom, Marci, or their dad, David, take them to their private violin lessons and provide support for practice at home.
When they’re able, they go to concerts together as a family. And when they’re not attending concerts or going to music lessons, chances are, they’re still involved with classical music. Wyatt particularly enjoys listening to Mozart while he does his homework from Spanish class.
While not a musician himself, David McGraw’s fascination with classical music began in college. One of his professors encouraged his class to listen to classical music while studying to enhance their retention of facts – a phenomenon well known as “the Mozart effect.” Intrigued, McGraw went and purchased a CD of Mozart music to play while completing his collegiate assignments. He marveled, “I saw that it helped.”
With a success score, his pursuit of experiencing the benefits of classical music didn’t stop there. Reminiscing back to his early days of parenting, McGraw recalled the season of life where both twins were still babies. While his wife worked the night shift as a nurse, he worked the night shift at home.
With a smile, he remembered nestling into a recliner each night – one baby in each arm. Making sure that there were two bottles within reach, he would turn on the radio to St. Louis’ classical music station. Through the night, as he caught bits of sleep between plugging bottles into the crying babies’ mouths, the classical music played on. “I don’t know how I made it through those days,” he said. Maybe it had something to do with the music.
Whatever it was, it’s sticking with those little guys. “They’re light years ahead of where I was in 2nd grade,” said McGraw. “I always associate music with intellectual pursuits.” And for that reason, classical music continues to be a huge part of his life – at home, and also in his workplace.
A high school teacher of history and government, McGraw has made a habit of playing classical music in his classrooms during silent reading times, essay exams, and at other appropriate times. He says, “I try to expose my students … I’ve never had a student complain or ask for it to be turned off.”
This fall, the McGraws have plans to attend concerts with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra. After attending the season’s opening concert on October 8, the boys were highly enthused! Wesley McGraw commented excitedly, “It’s amazing how they can play!” Wyatt McGraw stated matter-of-factly, “It sounds like Mozart … I really liked it. But I like the violins best because I play the violin.”
Their dad chimed in at that point, “One day, you might be down there playing [in the orchestra]!” For right now, the boys are practicing “Camptown Races,” working on D major scales, and excitedly awaiting the arrival of their new violins.
David McGraw says, “I’m proud of my kids no matter what they decide to do. But it would make me so proud if one day I saw them playing in a symphony orchestra.” So to that end, he continues to provide them with rich, classical music experiences, saying, “I want to expose them to culture other than the uncultured music – the nonsense we listen to every day … and that’s why I take my kids to classical music concerts.”