Power And Magic In Music
My daughter Selah wouldn't speak or play with toys at all when she was younger. In fact, she didn't even say "Mama" until she was four. She has autism and Dup15q, but we wouldn't know that for a while. What we did know was that the only thing that calmed her, the only thing she seemed to tune into, the only thing that brought her joy, was music.
So, from about 8 months until age three, we would watch YouTube. I'd sit her on my lap. We'd watch music videos. After months of children's music every day, I was about to lose my mind. I started looking for bearable children's music videos. I found Sesame Street videos with real artists & musicians. I love opera, and Carmen's my favorite. So when I found Denyce's hilarious Elmo/Carmen video I was very excited to press play. Now, you have to understand that Selah didn't make sounds. She never sang along. The child would hurt herself and not make a peep. She would run into a wall and not make a noise. So imagine my surprise when, watching Denyce sing to Elmo, I heard my daughter's voice. She was copying Denyce's voice, signing on my lap. And it wasn't a meek sound, either. It was a loud, strong, operatic, 'Ahhhhh!" She was copying Denyce! And this voice was from deep in her belly. It brings me pleasure even to this day and is one of my precious memories.
I tried and tried to get her to do it again to other videos. It wasn't until we got to Patti Labelle's ABC video that she did it again. In the first few seconds, Patti belts a note out, and BAM! Selah copied her, loud and strong. It was glorious. Selah is much healthier now and has enough words to communicate her needs. I took her to the sensory production of Opera on the Go/Pirates of Penzance. She wasn't able to focus at all, but as soon as the vocal workshop started & the soprano belted out a note, Selah did it again! She copied her in this hilarious, beautiful trill. Then she discovered Frozen and although you can't understand all her words, she sings "Let it go" in its entirety. Today she carries such a perfect tune that, even when I can't decipher her words, I'll recognize the song. To qualify her for music therapy, they did a test. She performed 95% better at all tasks when music was added to the situation.
There's such power and magic in song and music and that's why I wanted to bring Opera on the Go to Selah's school, so other children will experience the magic. Especially hearing those strong operatic voices in person- it's amazing. The absolute power of music, although I believed in it to a degree before, is much more potent than I previously believed. Selah sang before she talked; and thank you Denyce, for sharing your talent with children. You've touched our lives in a magic way, and your voice helped give my child her voice.