Private Playlist: Inara George shares tips for raising music-literate kids during quarantine

Some of Inara George's Vinyl collection. Photo courtesy of Inara George.

Private Playlist is a listening session with Southern California’s most notable musical figures in their private creative environments. Inara George is a vocalist and songwriter best known as one-half of pop duo The Bird And The Bee. She spoke with KCRW about raising music-literate kids and her own nostalgic listening under quarantine:

I've been trying to play games with my kids prior to the quarantine, making sure that they know the roots of certain music. So we play this game where I play a song and they have to guess who it is.

My eldest son is really into Elton John right now, and has been for a few weeks. And he's learning "Rocket Man" on the piano. So we talk about Elton John. And then we'd go through all these different kinds of music, so I'd try to play the Kinks and see if they got into that, then the Clash, and then we'd talk about Prince.

My husband will introduce them to songs, and they had this Warren Zevon period where they knew every single lyric to "Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner."

I got a record player recently, also really wanting my kids to understand what an album means: It has two sides and it was well thought-out. So of the things I was gravitating to, I was really getting into jazz. I bought an Art Blakey album, Caravan. It feels like music that I can not think to, but just feel to. So that's where my head's been at before this all happened.

The past week has been interesting. My first full day inside was March 13.

We were trying to keep some sort of schedule and seeing how it all played out. We lay in bed at night and sing songs. I usually sing the same songs to my kids, and my daughter last night said, "I know why Daddy is better at putting us to sleep. Because he sings songs we don't know, and you always sing songs we know, so we want to sing along." Last night she's like, "Just sing one of your songs. I don't know all of your songs!" So last night, I sang a couple of my own songs.

I sang this song called "Night Happens." It's on An Invitation, the album I did with Van Dyke Parks. I think it feels like the quarantine, because it's just about being in your house.

The records I've gravitated to in this last week are records that I fell in love with when I was younger. When I was in my first year of college, a really good friend was going to New England Conservatory. And so we would sometimes meet in the middle: there was this huge Tower Records there. And we would go and look around, and he said, "You should buy this," which was the earlier version of Glenn Gould's The Goldberg Variations. But it was the one when he was younger, and so there's a little more testosterone in it. I think there was a period of time - when I was like 18 or 19 - where I just listened to that exclusively.

I started taking piano lessons because my kids were taking piano lessons. I had actually started a Bach piece, and because I love The Goldberg Variations, I asked my teacher, "Can we learn that first aria?" But when I knew we were going to be in solitary confinement for so long, I thought, "Maybe I should try to learn the entire movement while I'm in quarantine."

So I've listened to the older Goldberg Variations, and I've also listened to Getz/Gilberto from Stan Getz and João Gilberto. Those are the two things that I've found myself wanting to listen to. But I think, being that we're going to be stuck for a while, I have a feeling ... I dunno. I'm curious where it will go.