Beethoven and The Beatles

Music is a funny thing. The science behind how music effects our brains is so fascinating to me. All of the biggest things in my life seem to have song that go with them. When Claire was little music was one of the first ways we learned about who she was. She liked the White Stripes as a baby and Social Distortion in preschool.

As she got older music became close to a treatment. Certain songs would bring her body such peace. Then her brain started doing weird, scary stuff. Randomly her brain would go next level. She was further trapped in a body that already didn’t work, she would become stiff and appear scared. I don’t know how, but a lot of the time, music could set her free.

Sometimes I would sing the songs that we learned in Music Together and sometimes it was old favorites from my iphone that would let her brain release. The one constant is that something only works for a while before it crosses a threshold of being part of the problem. It’s one of the cruelest jokes that Rett Syndrome has played on all of us.

Slowly, each of Claire’s favorite songs has become poison to her brain. The hardest for us to loose were the Beach Boys and the Beatles when she was 8. Those were her favorites of all time and easy for everyone to enjoy.

Recently we’ve been listening to a lot more strings as Chloe is getting into playing her cello. Claire really enjoys this type of music, I don’t know why or how, but orchestra music works for her right now. She loves it. She loves it even more in person, who doesn’t?

It just so happens that the Santa Cruz Symphony had a family concert today and it featured Beethoven and The Beatles. Claire loved the opening with “Ode to Joy” but when they played “All You Need is Love” her body was so relaxed and her eyes so wide as the bliss washed over her. It was a new way for her to access her old favorite. I had been poised and ready to run her to the door as her brain revolted against her. Instead I was able to just let the happy tears flow and bask in the glory of something working.


Yes, I’ve already found the instrumental Beatles on iTunes, it’s not as awesome but it will make for a good background as we drive to therapy after school.


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