virtuoso bears story
it started with a 2017 new year resolution: I decided to take piano lessons after about 20 years of break. since I was already in my 30s, the process felt more difficult than when I was a child: simultaneously reading and playing the notes was challenging. the fingers also felt stiffer and less stretchable than before. although it is certainly possible to learn a new instrument at any age, it just does not come with the same ease as when we were children. I wished I practised more when I was younger. I did not do it because I felt it was yet another chore imposed by my parents, on top of tennis lessons and school homework. but how could a younger me have been better encouraged? what if there was a way to introduce children to classical music in a fun way? grow their natural affection for music from the day they are born?
playing classical music to children from birth is a simple way, but what if this early music education could be embodied in their most loved toy - an object of their fondness and affection? I did extensive research on whether such a toy already existed, but did not find any. there were numerous sound emitting toys, many of them, to parents' dislike, quite ear-annoying. some musical toys played soothing melodies, but they lasted only 20 seconds, leaving one wishing for more. none of the toys I found played full-length musical recordings, let alone classical music compositions. I wanted my forthcoming baby to have such a toy.
in the process of researching the subject, I made an interesting discovery: numerous studies indicate that classical music has positive impact on our mental and physical health. for children, the developmental benefits include better concentration, pattern cognition and memory. In adults, the benefits range from improved sleep, reduced stress, to lowered blood pressure. on top of that, playing a musical instrument engages practically every area of the brain at once, strengthening them as a result. in particular, playing an instrument requires an increased exchange of messages between the left and right cerebral hemispheres, which leads to improved performance of interlinked tasks such as planning, strategising and attention to detail. this discovery has made me all the more convinced of the importance of providing an environment in which children can learn to appreciate classical music.
I therefore embarked on a mission to create a toy that would introduce babies to classical music in a fun way. a toy that would be loved by children and adults alike. a deep-seated goal of mine to be able to recognise classical music compositions and composers by ear has propelled the idea even further: I have decided that each toy would epitomise a different virtuoso, include a playlist of ’greatest hits', and showcase a short autobiographical note of the virtuoso. Amadeus and Ludwig, the plush alter-egos of world renowned virtuosos Mozart and Beethoven, were created as a result. they are truly an embodiment of early music education that inspires appreciation of classical music in babies, but most definitely not the last of their kind. for my intention is to ultimately create an entire virtuoso collection consisting of many more plush-worthy music composers.