I recently had a son. He's five months old today, and I'm very proud of my boy. Last November when he was born, I couldn't help but look immediately at his hands as he came into the world. Being a full time pianist, my eyes immediately looked in that general direction (And btw, he's got very big hands and very long fingers : ). I asked myself some questions about him, and what his experience in this world would be like. Some of those questions, of course, pertained to the world of music.
I've learned that my son, whose name is Leif, already has an appreciation for music. And he recognizes certain pieces. He's comforted by it, and as a newborn, music was often the only thing that would calm him as he was having a bout of colic. Where the vacuum cleaners, car rides, and pacifiers all failed, music was able to come through for us. And not just any genre of music either.
I made an interesting discovery after Leif was born. What he heard in the womb was familiar to him, clearly. He recognized my voice, and of course my wife Barbara's voice as well. But he also recognized my music. During the last two trimesters of Barbara's pregnancy, I had hit my peak work season. I was preparing for my "October" CD release, and finishing up in the studio. I was also preparing for my annual "Sounds Of The Night" concert in October, my "Vince Guaraldi And The Peanuts" concert weekend in November, and my "Winter Solstice IV" concert at Witherspoon Hall here in Omaha. Any of these events on their own were a huge undertaking, and I was swamped like never before. As a result, I was practicing night and day for months in addition to the marketing of the shows, securing of details, CD production, and daily lessons. Needless to say, I was a busy guy.
Barbara was used to listening to me practice at home. There was no way to get away from it, really, as it was almost constant. She used to tell me that when I played, Leif would stop kicking, and I was skeptical. Skeptical that is, until he was born.
Leif was a very colicky child for several months. He would scream at the top of his lungs and stay on pitch for hours. He'd turn red and purple. Nothing we did would end the incessant screaming. Except when I played the piano. And particularly, when I played my pieces. It was fascinating to watch! He would instantly stop, look at me, look around, and sit for a few minutes before finally falling gently asleep. I'd never seen anything like it.
Admittedly I was a little embarrassed to have been skeptical in the first place. After all, I'm a musician, shouldn't I have had a little more faith in the power of music? But over the last five months what I've come to discover is that through this experience, I hold music at an even higher level than I did before. I've always believed music to be extremely powerful. But now, I know that it's an unstoppable force when it's crafted as such. I believe that music has the power to move people to go places they could only imagine before, and heal people in ways that no medicine can. I may even go so far as to say that it has the power to move mountains. After all, it did stop my son's colic.
To you mothers who are reading this article and expecting, please don't take this lightly. Those people who play Mozart to their babies who are still in the womb are not "weird" or "crazy." The influence that music has in the mind and soul of an unborn baby (and a born baby for that matter) is valid and it's real. Give it a try, you might learn something! I did. And I have my son Leif to thank for it.
Donovan Johnson is an internationally recognized New Age pianist and recording artist. His music combines folk, classical and contemporary styles to create a unique sound all it's own, and is available through many websites and radio stations. To learn more, visit his website at www.donovanjohnson.net. Or visit his online New Age piano radio station at www.enlightenedpiano.com!