When I was 4 years old, I made a song. I remember it was about my favorite things at the time: ballet, cotton candy, carnivals and drawing with pink and purple crayons.
Singing it made me happy. I couldn’t wait to share it with others. I imagined it would make them happy too.
Then, one day at my preschool, we were having “circle time” and our teacher asked: “Does anyone have a song he or she would like to share?”
Oh my goodness, I was so excited! My hand shot up “I do!”
“Okay,” she said, “wonderful.” I started to sing the song I made. I got a little lost, but stuck to my main themes, repeating: “I went to ballet and then I ate cotton candy” and so on…
After a brief moment, the teacher cut me off and said to the group: “Can anyone please share a song we all know?”
Ouch. I knew I had done something wrong, but I wasn’t quite sure what it was.
Then I got it, I was supposed to have sung “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” or “Happy Birthday.” I felt ashamed and the moment was cemented in my brain (but also consciously forgotten).
I didn’t make any more songs for 20 years, when I finally started singing again the way I did back then, just absent mindedly, making up words to melodies when I was out walking or driving. One day when I was cross-country skiing in the woods, I started singing about a bird and a snow bank just for the fun of it and I finally found my way back.
These days, I listen to my 2 and 4 year-old daughters singing to themselves the way many kids do when they are lost in the moment and in a zone of sorts.
I hear them making up songs from their car seats, singing about lunch, the sun, flowers, and hide & go seek, and I get to say to them:
“I love that song you’re singing, will you teach it to me?”
Ps: My Spring “Creative Happy You” Online Songwriting Circle begins Monday, March 23rd! The theme is Write Songs You Love! For more information, click here
*ALSO for the very first time*, I’m offering a workshop for beginning youth songwriters aged 11-15. I’m so excited for this! To learn more, go here!
As always, feel free to leave a comment below (especially about any good or bad creative experiences YOU had as a child). I keep forgetting to invite people to leave a comment and so many folks just email me directly (which I love too) BUT it’s so nice if EVERYONE can read your comments as well! Xoxoxo!
Great story, Anne! It’s a great reminder of how fragile we are as children, and how as adults we have so much impact on them. Even if it did take 20 more years, I’m glad you started writing songs again for us to hear! And even more glad that you are encouraging your own children to explore their creative sides and express themselves.
J Russo! Thanks for posting here! It’s great when other people get to read the comments too (I get so many amazing stories from people via email, but I think it’s a violation of privacy to post them here! 😉 lol) You’re the best and thanks for the kind words!
Jonathan Hoffman says
I’d love to have a word or two with THAT “teacher.” My youngest daughter, now 8, did this, too, and I was lucky enough to catch it on video once. It was amazing! She just went from tune to tune, making up words, sounds, melodies, while we watched in awe. Of course, we stopped her, and told her to cut it out and sing a real song instead. Not.
That’s awesome! You caught it on video too? AMAZING! And yes of course you told her to cut it out! Just kidding – good joke! 🙂
My goodness…moments like what your teacher just makes my blood boil! Thank you goodness you found your way back to doing what you love and what the world needs from you. Years ago, when I was focused on working to get into Julliard, I had to make a choice between going to a family event or take advantage of an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to train with a Julliard professor over the summer. I chose to take the lessons. I remember to this day the moment when a close family member described me as, ‘ruthless’ and ‘selfish’. Ugh!! I stopped playing a year later and never picked up the viola again. So, thank goodness for the next generation. Now with our girls, if they want to do something that’s important to them, my/our only answer is, ‘what are you waiting on?’
YES Christa!!!!! I love that! So sorry about your Julliard experience. Yucky. People are just confused sometimes and probably something like that was said to that family member and then it gets repeated. With our girls, we say “You go!”