Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Language On Its Own

Back when I was handling a well known cable account years ago I had an American female customer who wanted to watch her favorite baseball game but was unable to view it on a local sports channel. Part of my job was to assist customers look for alternative channels where they could watch their favorite shows in the shortest time possible while having small talk so as not to have dead air. I was just new then and still adjusting with the account. Personally I am not one to start a conversation especially to somebody that I have not met yet until I was coached by my Operations Manager where she pointed that it was a skill that I should start learning. And since it was my only bread and butter I have to adjust and loosen up a little even if it was hard to begin with. Good thing some customers do broke the ice first, a cue that I needed to join in the conversation.

Going back to my customer, aside form being a baseball fanatic I have learned that she was also a music teacher at Berkley School of Music even added that she handled Filipino students. This she mentioned upon learning that she was talking to a Filipina and that she also taught to very young children as well. And when she mentioned the word "kids," that immediately touched a soft spot. At that time my youngest son, Red had very limited vocabulary but hums and sings with words he alone could understood. I told this music teacher customer about my son, telling her about his disability and the fact that he had learned to sing even before he could talk. Upon hearing this she told me to enroll my son to music lessons. Since that idea seemed strange then, I repeated her advise in a form of a question .

"Voice lessons ?"

The customer corrected me immediately and answered, "Not voice lessons but music lessons."

Though I was a little bit embarrassed with my question (I was also in the midst of looking for the right channel for her favorite baseball team) the customer generously pointed out that music and voice lessons were entirely two different things. Although the challenge was still there considering my son was speech delayed, she pointed out that music was his way of expressing himself. She added that jazz and rhythm and blues artists performed and sang just like my son even added that enrolling him to music lessons can even be therapeutic.

"You may not know it but your son had always been communicating through his music. Perhaps because a lot of people often forget that music is a language on its own."


I finally found the channel she had been looking for and as I thanked my customer for her patience she in turned extended her gratefulness for the conversation and for finally being able to watch her favorite team.

It had been almost six years since I talked to that lady.Though I never had the chance to enroll my son to music lessons due to financial and time constraints, her sisters and I creatively did our best to support him. We let him watch and listen to station ids for local channels, movie theme songs and soundtracks especially the classics even if that would mean hearing them over and over again. His eldest sister who had always been like a second mother made him listen to jazz tunes on youtube and even concerts during fiestas. Lately when I tell him to take a short nap he would ask me to set the settings for the different ring tones on my old Nokia phone in return, and with his favorite teddy bear and pillows put the phone close to his ear until I could hear the music accompanied by his breathing, sign that he had fallen asleep. But the biggest improvement of it all was his ability to talk and ask for the very basic things which had been a far cry from the little boy who only hummed  and sang  that only he could understood.

My autistic son Red

I may have forgotten to thank that cable customer years ago on what she had shared but her words still echo a familiar tune. Amidst the hustle and bustle of work and parenting I sometimes forget that the mundane and the trivial things are the ones that make us stop, look and listen. From then on I understood.

 Now each time I hear my son hums and sings every note, rhythm and beat comes alive. All I need was to listen closely.

 And open my heart .

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  1. Now I know why you said it hits right home. :-) Music is after all the language of the soul.

  2. she is very right... music is a language on its own.

    glad to hear that your child is doing well and has improved in communicating. you and your daughter is commendable in taking efforts to help him improved through music. it doesn't always have to be expensive. we just have to find ways.

    happy new year to you! i know it's late but hey. there's still another day tomorrow before the month ends. :D

  3. Music is the key to many doors. How wonderful that music is reaching your son!

  4. Thank you so much Susan for dropping by.