Here's a question for you: "Would Mozart have been Mozart without his big sister?" Most of us know that Mozart was a child prodigy composing early works at the age of five but would he have been so prodigious if it had not been for the example of his big sister? Mozart's father was himself a minor composer who was a violinist and who trained his daughter Marianne in the harpsichord and piano.
Due to this training, Marianne was a very accomplished musician and one can imagine Mozart looking up to her and paying close attention to her at the keyboard. We know that younger siblings often benefit from the simple advantage of observation in the early years - particularly in the realm of music.
“No musicians develop their art in a vacuum,” according to Stevan Jackson, a musical sociologist and anthropologist at Radford University in Radford, Virginia. “Musicians learn by watching other musicians, by being an apprentice, formally or informally.” Being in a musical family with a musical sibling, in particular, can heighten one’s musical interest, expertise and musical drive, Jackson says. (Smithsonian Magazine)
I often wonder if my Little Musicians influence each others' learning? I certainly see how the arrival of her little brother has taught my daughter to develop her patience and gentleness. She has definitely made him her student in many important realms including pulling faces, sidewalk colouring, book reading, and noise making!
A friend of mine once lamented that she had been looking very forward to teaching her second child about colours, numbers, and letters only to discover that her eldest had beat her to the punch! In fact, her youngest rattled off her letters like an old pro before it even dawned on my friend to begin to share the alphabet with her.
Personally, I love seeing how receptive Vince is to Althea's guidance even in those moments where he is being instructed to play the recorder in tempo with her banging out notes on the piano like a maniac. There is a sweet joy in watching music bring together your little ones. Now. Where the heck did I put those ear plugs?
Ah well... while I go and seek those out - take a listen to this little ditty supposedly composed by Mozart when he was 9 years old. You will note that it is a composition for 4 hands at the harpsichord. Hmmm. I wonder just how much of a hand Marianne Mozart had in its creation and performance...