The Music Inside

My daughter taught me how to be a mother - of a beautiful musician

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“I want a name that sounds like a song,” I kept saying to my husband.  At 9 months pregnant we still hadn’t decided on the name of our first child – a girl. A friend suggested a beautiful Cornish name. It was melodic and lyrical, I got chills the moment she said it – it also means elm tree, but that was a technicality I was happy to overlook.

Throughout my pregnancy I craved music – listening, singing at the top of my lungs, I would even dream about it.  Which, for a girl who stopped paying attention to bands post 2001, was a new thing for me.  During the day, I would sit in my office, wrapped in a soft belly band that piped in classical music to my little girl, occasionally mixing it up with Edith Piaf, a few show-tunes, and a lullaby sung by my mother.  After she was born, less than 24 hours old, she was impossible to console.  After she was kicked out of the hospital nursery for the second time, my husband suggested we play the songs she had listened to in the womb.  I played them, our child slept.  

That became a running theme, every time she was upset we played music, mostly classical, and she instantly calmed down. At three months old, a close friend came to visit and he played his mandolin as her tiny hand slowly conducted in accompaniment.  At six months, my husband and I finally recognized our little girl’s love of music was a little unusual during a far too long car ride on the winding roads of the French countryside.  In between sobs she quietly hummed “The Nutcracker Suite” to herself.  When we arrived at our destination, she promptly threw up.

At seven months, I started researching music classes for babies.  I finally found a school in downtown Los Angeles that seemed to fit our little girl.  I was so excited.  I knew our daughter would instantly take to the class and in turn, the teacher would marvel at our little prodigy – she would be the youngest classically trained pianist they had ever seen!  Our first class began with the teacher playing the piano.  I gently tapped her knees to the beat and my little prodigy froze, like a deer in headlights.  This was not the reaction I had anticipated.  At the end of class, the teacher, sensing my disappointment, reassured me my daughter was just listening, taking it all in.

The next week, the same thing happened, and the next. Each week she sat, staring.  Until, one day, 4 weeks into class, I saw it.  There she sat on the carpet in her father’s lap, swaying to the beat.  I watched as the other babies gnawed on their little plastic maracas – my little girl proudly looked back at me, shaking her maraca to the beat with a look that said, “this is amazing, are you getting this?!”

At two and a half, her love of music hasn’t waned, if anything it has grown stronger.  She can sit and play the little electric guitar her grandmother made for her for hours, strumming as she sings.  She dances through Hamilton and grooves to jazz.  I don’t know what the next phase her love of music will bring and after watching her in music class I know better than to predict.  I just hope it’s a life-long appreciation and love of something that brings her so much joy. 

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