It could not have escaped the pianists attention, how we took a while to unstrap and lift Elin onto the seats by the table, with her splints and boots getting caught on everything as we looked for a space to park her wheelchair. It could not have escaped his attention how we watched her listening, how her eyes darted around, trying to anchor herself as to where she was and where the music was coming from. How we did not order food or dink for her and the Creme Egg brought by the staff for her was left untouched. It could not have escaped his attention that this big girl before him sitting slightly awkwardly by the table stayed silent and was not always able to look in his direction.
It did not escape his attention.
It did not escape his attention.
So he had a choice to make.
In light of my previous posts you will know we have not come to expect people to always engage with Elin where they may usually engage with 'ordinary' children. This guy was busy, he was working, he did not need to move from his piano chair. He had the perfect excuse not to. Yet- he made his choice and just like that, I realised for every person out there who may feel uncomfortable engaging with Elin, there's one who is happy to. More than happy to.
He chose to come over to us and ask us what Elin would like to listen to. He chose to smile at her and talk to us about her and actually tailored his music for her. When I told him she liked Disney, he said he would like to play 'Frozen' for her. It was so thoughtful and kind of him, just a truly lovely gesture. Up to this point Elin had been largely indifferent to the music, although you could tell she was straining to concentrate on it and listening really well. What happened next was truly magical and I will forever kick myself that I did not video it.
Elin's reaction to what we have always thought to be one of her favourite songs was incredible. She literally stilled. Her eyes widened and her whole face was locked into thinking. As the familiar 'Let It Go' riff was played (how much do we all wish we'd written that song?!? There can't be a child or parent under the age of 12 who doesn't know every bar of it inside out!!), she broke into THE biggest grin you have ever seen. This was followed by peals and peals of laughter. There was absolutely no question of it being a coincidence. She recognised the song. Considering we haven't listened to it in quite a while this was even more incredible to us. How clever is Elin? It really made me quite teary and very, very proud.
I love how Elin responds to music. It's like it touches her soul. It gets to her in a way that nothing else quite can. I suppose music is universal in it's ability to move, regardless of understanding, language, age and any other barriers that dictate our abilities to enjoy other forms of entertainment. It speaks to her, she understands something in music that she cannot necessarily understand in words. Its an emotional understanding rather than an intellectual one. It's the same reason why a few bars of a certain song can reduce you to tears (I'm looking at you Bright Eyes by Art Garfunkel) yet images of atrocities on the news for example each day may not. You cannot become desensitised to music. I love that about music and I love that Elin gets to experience that and share it too.
The piano man (George) was visibly delighted by Elin's responses and played more Disney songs for her. He had such a kindness in his eyes, he really made a difference to our experience that day. I've since looked him up and he is a highly trained musician from the Musical Academy in Bucharest. If you ever want a player for a function or family event I would highly recommend him (link below).
So it turns out for every family at the zoo, there is a George the piano man playing a different tune.
Happy Easter folks.
Hope you found the music, and the sunshine, in yours.