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Articles Illustration: Mayo Bous and Jennifer Ancizar. Illustration: Mayo Bous and Jennifer Ancizar.

Instructions to educate a music lover

My son recently said his first word. It is the moment you are waiting for and that at least I, trying to be a scientist and mother at the same time, had been struggling not to confuse with any word since the dadas, tatas, mmm, Rs loud and clear as trains and even the odd sound of a door attached to a poorly screwed hinge. Esperaba la asociación de la palabra con el objeto, el contacto visual y, por supuesto, en el fondo, también esperaba que ese “objeto” fuera“mamá”. Sin embargo y con dos mamis en su haber, la primera palabra de mi hijo fue “disco” y ocurrió escuchando música.

Entre su mamá y la música quizás mi niño no sabría responder quién ha estado primero. Yo sé que he sido mediadora de la relación entre ambos, he sido mamá como instrumento que ayuda a seleccionar los álbumes de su preferencia, a colocarlos en el tocadiscos, a seguir (ar)rítmicamente las canciones con las manos y el cuerpo. Poco antes de nacer, mi suegra había aprendido una canción en el ukelele de una banda hawaiana llamada Mana´o  Company y estaba muy entusiasmada practicando los acordes. Yo también la aprendí y un día descubrimos que cuando tocábamos la canción, mi niño pateaba aún dentro del vientre. La canción se volvió el exitazo de la familia y todo el mundo terminó aprendiéndola, sobre todo porque la canción hablaba sobre descender, uno de los pasos biológicamente necesarios dentro del útero para el nacimiento. La canción se llama Drop, baby drop y no va de bebés ni de realmente bajar a ninguna parte, pero a Paulo le parecía la canción intrauterina más divertida del mundo.

Music became the element that fostered relaxation in the face of my role as a first-time mother, and it was also a conscious exercise in addition to that stage of waiting while Paulo was growing inside my wife's womb. While we were advancing in the (re) readings of the stages of fetal development, we came to the one where, seductively, we were told that besides my wife's voice the child could also recognize other sounds coming from outside the uterus. Many more songs came after that discovery, sung, with headphones on the belly, with and without ukulele, many, many stories read with rhymes and some improvisation.

Tocar música para mi hijo o decidir cuál banda, artista o álbum iba a acompañarnos a ambos, devino también en un ejercicio introspectivo muy especial para mí. Un ejercicio que buscaba en mis memorias qué momentos musicales había compartido con mi familia siendo pequeña, qué canciones mi mamá tarareaba para mí o mis sobrinos, cuáles entre esas era yo aún capaz de recordar sin necesidad de escucharla de nuevo, cuáles amaba de verdad. Un ejercicio que además me cuestionaba como hija y que me movía como madre a seleccionar bien, a observar las reacciones de mi niño, entendiendo que era él una personita independiente a mí y que sus reacciones a mis gustos musicales podrían no ser las mismas. Así fue como descubrimos que la Chacarera de los gatos de María Elena Walsh era la canción perfecta para llamar su atención al despertar en las mañanas, y la del espantapájaros la ideal para comenzar a crear el ambiente relajado que le ayudaba a dormir.

The months passed and new voices were incorporated along the way. Music also gained a lot of strength as a form of communication between us. Many songs became the signal to switch between one activity and another, and let him know that we were going to start a transition, to motivate him to play or pay attention and to accompany certain routines of our life, we even explored live concerts outdoors that, as much as possible, we try to be part of our daily lives. But the real revolution came at six months old with the arrival of a small suitcase to decorate the house: the record player. I remember the first thing we played was a Broadway soundtrack: Fiddler on the Roof. After listening Tradition his attention was completely caught. He crawled over to the table, picked it up off the floor, and began to look at the disk. At that moment I knew that at least an interesting bond had been born between my son and music in a way that I could only enjoy. From that day on, Paulo became a participant from minute zero of each sound shared on that record player.

For me, each vinyl was also a discovery, a journey that I decided to undertake together with him. The beginning always the same: "Pauli, do you want to put on the record player?" Wait for the approval that I continue to assume in his smile and ask him to help me. That he helps me is nothing more than the way he observes the process by which the vinyl record becomes, after a few moments of waiting, into music. That moment, which takes a few minutes and which I extend and savor with him in my arms, is a beautiful preliminary game. I explain the sequence of what we are going to do and name each part: “Now we are going to take the album and make sure that we put on the face that we like. We put it here. We turn on the turntable, we move our arm, we lower the lever and… ” My final words are always the same as we look at each other: "Are you ready?" I feel that with that I prepare him for something unprecedented and that we will never, never know what songs are going to be heard. And somehow I want to believe that this wait can be the basis of patience as a virtue, he waits, waits quietly watching the record spin, he knows that something big is going to sound in moments and when the first note reaches us, he always returns a smile.

There is no space related to music in which Paulo has not helped me, since he has also been an indisputable part in the creation of our record library. The ones I have bought are accompanied by the desire to reproduce them for the first time at his side. My eyes always go over the cards hoping to find poems or children's songs. And I've been lucky! Poems, songs, hymns, stories that I no longer remembered or had doubts about what the ending was today are part of that corner of the room where our music is concentrated.

Certainly the turntable has had a lot of importance in my little boy's daily life: when he has been upset, I put on a record, when I feel like dancing with him, I put on a record — I load it and we do it together — when we wanted to make him laugh immediately, we put on a record. I feel that since it is a very interactive way of relating to music, for him it means seeing music being made, something comes up from where seconds before there was nothing. The turntable comes on, the record spins, the needle lowers, he waits, the music starts. It is a process that does not work by itself, that requires the two of us together to create something new. And we have to enjoy it all, we cannot easily skip the songs and go directly to the ones that Mom or he likes the most and, in that wait, the arrival of the favorite song takes on an even more spectacular dimension. These are values ​​that I want to keep, I want him to be amazed, that his appreciative view of life is not limited to sitting and observing; I want it to be a part, to travel through the world away from passivity. Hopefully Los Van Van and their vinyl chronicles will help me with that.

About all this I fantasize when I look at him and, while I do, he is one year old. It is 10:30 at night and one of my best friends just gave me the musical heritage of her family on acetate discs. Pablo Milanés sings "Cuba and Puerto Rico are two wings of a bird" and my wife carries our child in front of the rotating album and asks him: "Pauli, do you like the record?" My child looks at her. My boy, who has never said anything, looks at her and speaks.

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