“From the time I was a little kid, our house was full of music.”
For Robin Hopper, harmony means home. She remembers her father strumming his guitar while the family sang along.
Her grandmother would sing songs about anything Robin could think of while she played her taropatch, an 8-string ukulele, despite Robin’s best efforts to stump her.
But, as much as Robin loves music, family is something even more important to her.
“Family is everything,” Robin explained. “It’s the people who love you the best no matter what and the people who understand you without you needing to explain yourself. It’s that sense of belonging without having to worry about what people think or what’s going to happen.”
Robin grew up with dreams of becoming a music teacher and musician.
Her recent retirement from Homestead Elementary after a 39-year career, speaks to her dream of becoming a music teacher, and the Hopper Family Band fulfills her dreams of being a musician.
Robin and Bruce Hopper and their two adult children, Caiti and Grady, have been playing together for fourteen years. The love of music seems to run in the Hopper family, Caiti is a music teacher in the Anchorage School District, and Grady plays bass in the Naked Mabel band and performed with Chris Thompson and Friends.
Robin was able to combine two things she has cherished since her childhood, music, and family.
Learning something together has provided the Hoppers with a great way to bond with their kids.
Ever the teacher, Robin shares some advice to parents for connecting with their children, “If you notice your child is interested in painting or wants to play an instrument, bone up on that,” she explained. “Find out how you can be a vehicle for furthering their opportunities to experience those things.
“Shared interests can be the basis for a lot more down the road when communication with a teen can be hard. Start them young!” Robin recommended.
Fourteen years later, they perform every year at folk festivals like the Anchorage Folk Festival, the state fair, and they are invited to play at live venues. People love their unique family harmony.
“The family harmony is like none else,” Robin laughed. “That’s what people comment on the most. They like the family blend of voices, which is very special.”
In addition to their special harmony, The Hoppers add their own spin to songs as well as performing originals like, “I Used to be Smart, Then I Had Kids.”
Robin especially loves writing songs about the funny side of aging.
“If you’re getting old, and not able to do the things you used to be able to do, I like to find a fun way to sing about that,” she said.
She admits, their practices are usually an ill-concealed excuse to “corral” their adult children.
“We make it a happy time,” Robin said. “There are always jokes, and we eat a nice meal together and talk about what’s new [in our lives], then we break out the instruments. There’s all kinds of joking and silly things going on, so it’s upbeat and fun.”
“It’s just a joy being with your adult children,” she said. “There’s always the joy of being with your young children and watching them grow and helping them grow, but when they are adults and want to spend time with you, and want to grow with you, that’s when you know you did it right!”
Jamin Goecker is a local writer who recently moved to Alaska. When he’s not writing about local events and personalities, he can be found hiking, running, skiing, or editing his manuscript for a novel. Email him at Jamin@echoak.com and follow him on Instagram at Jgoecker1 or Twitter at @jamin_goecker