While I was pregnant with the dutchkid, one of my unrealistic “what it will be like having a child” fantasies was how much she would love music. I played the piano a lot and at that time was still singing with a symphony chorus. I thought all of the exposure to music she would have in utero would give me a little one who would love music from birth. I envisioned myself playing for her to stop her from crying (I’d read that before that classical music often soothes colicky babies).
Enter reality. She was colicky, but music didn’t soothe her. She began crying when I tried to sing or play for her. Sometimes I could get away with humming, but all those lullabies I’d practiced? Evidently I was torturing her in utero. I thought it was just me, but she cried when my mom sang, too. As she got a little older, I began teaching piano lessons and I soon realized that she equated the sound of the piano with separation from me. While I taught, the mothers of my students watched her for me while their children had their lesson. Eventually they had to take her outside of the house, because the moment she heard the piano it was all over. When she started to talk, she began to shush my dh and I when we would try to sing songs in the car: “STOP singing”.
One day after we moved here, we were in the car listening to the classical music station. Suddenly she declared: “Mama, listen to that pretty music! It’s like Barbie and the Dancing Princesses!” (don’t even start with the judgments about letting my child watch that movie, how Barbie is bad for little girls’ self image…it’s all my dh’s fault. He downloaded it). She didn’t want to get out of the car. Seizing the moment, I assured her, that *I* could play pretty music, too.
That was several weeks ago, and the piano has gotten a lot of use along with her “princess” shoes for dancing. She prefers sonatinas it seems and can ask for several pieces she likes by the composer: Clementi and Beethoven. Unfortunately, she is quite the critic and I have a very limited repertoire that meets her approval. If she does not like what I’m playing she will declare authoritatively, ‘No, Mama, play the pretty music”. I’ve tried to tell her that it’s ALL pretty music, but I’ll take what I can get.
I can’t tell you how much it makes my heart sing to have her ask me to play the piano. And to think I owe it all to Barbie and the Dancing Princesses. Behold the power of the cartoon.