Finally…Fiddle!  by Rebecca Irish 

Fiddle is Music Together®’s Fall song collection this year! Finally! I have been waiting for this collection since my family’s second semester of Music Together. The reason I have been eagerly awaiting the Fiddle collection is that I dabbled in fiddling as a young adult. I actually dabbled in singing and playing guitar as a younger adult too, and I dabbled in flute in middle school band. I remember sitting on the steps in front of my college dorm with my new guitar in my lap. I said to my friend who was giving me a lesson, “There is music inside me.” I remember feeling awed at that realization—awed and uncomfortably full of this powerful force that longed to be unleashed and expressed.

But there’s a reason I used the word dabble in all three instances. Time and time again I let life circumstances and self-consciousness serve as scapegoats for my musical self-sabotage. And yet I have compassion for myself. Picking up a musical instrument as an adult is incredibly challenging logistically (read: time, money, scheduling) and even more challenging psychologically (read: vulnerability of being a beginner, self-criticism, self-consciousness).

Tonight I counted my Music Together songbooks and realized that Hays has been through six semesters of classes! In one of them I read “eighty-four percent of the population is born with enough music aptitude to one-day play in a symphony orchestra.” That both blows my mind and also seems completely plausible. I feel in my gut that in our culture we suffer from musical self-deprivation. Somehow, singing and dancing have seemingly become reserved for the “stars” and the rest of us have been relegated to spectators.

I can imagine the music that I still feel is inside of me might have found an easier and earlier exit if I had received the message as a young child that I was inherently musical, that music was fun, and that singing and dancing were things that people did together every day (as opposed to karaoke singing and club dancing, both of which are often induced with a little liquid courage).

When we enrolled in the Music Together program Hays was just under a year old, quite large, but not yet walking. For the dancing portions of class I would heft him up again and again; my sleep-deprived body would bounce and jiggle him around the room, singing all the while. I must confess during that first semester I wondered what the point was. But he soon started walking and classes became easier. Then he went through a phase where he would cry hysterically in the car and Music Together music was absolutely the only way to calm him. Soon after, I realized how much he liked to have jam sessions at home, playing along to the CD’s. It became clear he had favorites, as he would totally light up and go crazy for certain songs.

That was nothing compared to the past two semesters during which time Hays just absolutely blossomed. He has a blast in class, but I mainly notice it at home. He sings all his favorite songs, and improvises special dance moves for each. He belts out tunes as he “plays” an actual keyboard we have set up at his height. He has begun making up his own verses to songs and even rhymes sometimes! And the most recent musical wonder I’ve beheld is how he will sing out his play. My heart melted as I witnessed how music was facilitating his creativity, his imaginative play unfolding with such ease.

What I’m struck by most is how comfortable our whole family has become with music. My husband and I sing at least one song to or with Hays each night before bed. We’ve coined countless little ditties that we sing while we change diapers or clean up, or get in the bath. We sing songs about being together. We chant nonsense words. We clap our hands and stomp our feet creating rhythms. I feel like music helps us express ourselves more richly than if we were limited to speech; and I feel it helps us release and/or process stronger emotions or pent up energy.

I feel so joyful and proud that music has permeated our family culture and is a large part of our day-to-day activities. I harbor regret that, while I actually get great musical satisfaction from singing and dancing in Music Together classes and at home, I have yet to fully liberate my stifled musical expression. But this regret melts away when I experience Hays’s musical development, because I know that Music Together and its role in our family life is helping create a foundation of musical comfort and confidence upon which my son can build in whatever way he chooses.  - Rebecca Irish