Lin-Manuel Miranda and the Power of Singing

April 6, 2023 Barbie Wong

If you’ve ever heard the music from Hamilton or In the Heights, or got the “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” song from Encanto stuck in your head, you can thank its composer, Lin-Manuel Miranda. This incredibly prolific and gifted musician grew up in a very musical environment. Both of his parents loved Broadway musicals. Actually, their fondness for music bordered on obsessive. They played their 100+ cast albums all the time and Lin-Manuel grew up swimming in a sea of musicals.

Even though his parents loved listening to music, neither are musicians. His father Luis is a political consultant and his mother Luz is a psychologist. In fact, his mother’s musical abilities are so underdeveloped that even she makes fun of her own singing. Luz admits, “my voice is not very good, even in the shower. I have been asked to stop singing by good singers because I can drag them off key, especially if there is any harmonizing. Row, Row, Row Your Boat is the source of hilarity for my family.”

“Songs soothe children”

Despite her lack of musical abilities, Luz sang to her kids every night during bedtime. She explains, “…young children don’t know a voice is wonky. Songs soothe children, and especially infants. My awful singing may not be appreciated by adults, but it has been my go-to to calm a child when he or she is in distress.”

In fact, by the time Lin-Manuel went to college, their bond was so close that he missed hearing his mother’s singing at night. During his first year at college, he called his mom up and told her that he had trouble falling asleep. He asked her if she could record her songs so that he could listen to them at night. “Who does that?” Luz jokingly remarked.

I am quite touched by this story. I love how Luz sang to her kids even though she knew her voice was far from perfect. She knew the benefits of singing to her children, and she put aside her ego and any desire to be “the perfect parent” or even “the perfect musician” so that she could bond with her children and soothe them. We can all learn from her example. We can do things that will have impact, even if it’s far from perfect. We can make the connection with our child more important than our desire to “look good.”

Want to raise a musical child? Here is my blog about the secret to raising musical kids.