Culture Magazine

Jamming with Isabella

By Bbenzon @bbenzon
This is Isabella working on a drawing:
Judging from her size and the way she talks I’d say she’s between three and four.
I met her the other day at Wayquay’s Curiosity House and Soul Gynasium. She was there with her mother and older sister. That’s her sister strumming the guitar (don’t know who the frog is; perhaps it’s Michigan J):
That was a couple of days ago.
Just yesterday I went over to Wayquay’s with a couple trumpets in tow. I’m a musician, Wayquay’s a musician; she’d asked me to bring my trumpet along some time. So I did.
The door was open. Couldn’t see Wayquay, but some other folks were there, looking through the curiosities. So I got out my 1930s King Liberty and started playing. I forget just what, but it was simple and melodic.
Well, it turns out that Wayquay and Isabella were in another room. When I was done Isabella came up to me, big-eyed, smiling, and happy. She said something I couldn’t understand, but I understood what she was doing. She was heading straight to this piano:
She pulled out the bench (I helped), climbed up, and started playing. And that IS what she was doing, playing the piano. She isn’t a little Mozart, and what she was doing didn’t have a melody and harmony. All it had was rhythm, (fairly) steady rhythm. And that’s all you need to get started.
And, just to be clear, when I say “playing” I mean to exclude “pounding” or “banging.” She wasn’t banging away making as much noise as she could. She was making music as best she could.
So I did what any sensible musician would do. I joined her. I forget just what I played, though I’m pretty sure that at some point I threw in a bass line from an old Celia Cruz song, and I probably played either “Happy Birthday” or “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”, perhaps both. And she played along. That is, she kept time with me and I kept time with her.
She played with both hands at all times. Sometimes they were close together in front of her, almost touching. And sometimes they were as far apart as her arms could reach. She’d move her arms in and out, together and apart, and she played.
We had fun.
Yes we did.
I'm wondering, what if someone played music with her everyday, like I did? Perhaps you spend some time and show her a little something on the piano each day and let her do with it what she will. But you also make music together, that’s the important thing, playing together.
I’ll bet she’d learn. How could she not? She might even practice, in her own way. And she’d be having fun, too.
Do you think that’s what Mozart’s dad did with him?

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