When Christina was born with Down syndrome, which meant that she would have a mental disability, I was afraid that I would never be able to share my love of the piano with her. But this fear was more than that, it was connected with shame. I was ashamed of her intellectual disability. There was something ugly about my fear and shame: my fear, shame and grieve exposed the fact, that I assumed that Christina’s life needed an intellectual component in order to matter, in order for us to relate to one another, even in order to love her.
Piano, Disability and How Music Connects All Humanity
I love playing the piano, I have always loved playing the piano. I started professional lessons when I was a little girl, but aside from traditional piano learning, which included note-reading, technique, theory, playing classical music, I even taught myself how to play many pieces by ear. In College I was a Music major, music and piano have always been a part of who I am. I love it.
To my great joy and surprise, Christina loves playing the piano, and when you ask her to play her favorite piece, she plays every piece she knows. Music is just such a great tool to connect to one another and to be able to enjoy quality time together.
My fear, shame and grieve made me realize how I had idolized intelligence and productivity. As time went on, I noticed more and more that I needed to change my attitude and perception. I used to base people’s value on their ability to do certain things and their intellectual ability, but Christina taught me how wrong I was. I had overlooked and missed out on the goodness and loving friendship a special needs person can bring to my world, the worth they add to my life.
Throughout the ages human beings used intelligence to single out the unwanted among us, which leads to discrimination and even death for people with intellectual disabilities.
I believe that playing the piano has enhanced my own humanity, and my ability to empathize, to see the world from another point of view. But most of all, music and playing the piano has opened a world of possibilities I never dreamed of for Christina who was born with Down syndrome.
If you are interested in learning how to teach piano to your own child, even if you have no musical background, I can assist you. My system is so easy and step by step, even someone with no musical background can do it and follow along. Just contact me, and I will make an appointment with you, so we can connect and talk about setting up piano coaching for your special family.
If you are a piano instructor or therapist and would like to learn how include people with special needs into your studio and teach them how to play the piano, then I can assist you as well. Send me a note, and we set aside some time to talk.