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Vanessa’s Musical Dream

What if you were nine years old in 2019? Much of the world would only be accessible through a phone, and you would watch hours of YouTube if allowed.

What if  you had just moved to a foreign country and you weren’t super comfortable with the language or the customs, and it wasn’t easy to make friends. Especially if you were the youngest child in a family that’s been falling apart since the move.

What if your mom worked nights cleaning office buildings, and she didn’t have a car, and your dad had just passed away? Your grandfather might have to sleep in the carport because there is only one bedroom and you, your mom and your older sister can’t all sleep in one bed, so you sleep with mom and your sister sleeps on the couch.

What if one day a woman appeared at your door and said “Hi, I’m here to learn about you, and what makes you happy.”

You would probably be too afraid to talk, so you’d just nod your head. You’d take the worksheet with her questions on it and fill them in on your own without a word.

This is what Vanessa did when I interviewed her for her Dream.

In her neat little hand writing she gave only the vaguest details of her world:

Favorite color? Purple

Favorite character? LDshadowLady (Famous Gamer and You Tuber)

Some of your favorite things (animals, sports, hobbies)? Puppies

Most fun things you can remember doing?  Drawing

What do you like to do on the weekend? Go on phone

If you had a birthday cake in front of you right now what would you wish for? That I will have good grades.

Her mom filled out a questionnaire too, and on hers she would mention how Vanessa tried to teach herself piano by watching YouTube. This inspired me—I started asking the shy little girl behind the big round lenses questions about piano. She nodded vigorously – yes, yes- she loves to play on her keyboard. Yes she’s are pretty good at it. Yes she’d really liked to learn from a teacher.  Then she looked at her mom with a meaningful expression, and her mom relayed the message: Vanessa’s keyboard was broken.


I gave Vanessa a chapter book about mermaids with a glittery cover, and I left with a clear mission.

A few weeks later, on a Tuesday after school, Vanessa had her very first piano lesson. It took place in Imua’s preschool classroom, where there is a real piano. Her mom came along, and as Vanessa sat down with the very fancy white-haired lady at the piano bench, her mom got out her phone to record a video.

After the lesson, a big candy-striped present with curly pink ribbon sat on a table waiting for Vanessa. She shyly tore off the paper to reveal a brand new keyboard!

She had weekly lessons with her instructor, who is strict but kind. She worked halfway through an adult piano book, and mom looked so very proud. After each class Vanessa would receive a small gift, and lots of praise. On the last class there was a unicorn cake to celebrate!

And though her situation at home hasn’t improved, she had something to look forward to each week, and now has a keyboard to practice on and made her mom proud, which feels so good!!

Keep on playing Vanessa!!