What’s Your Earliest Musical Memory? With The Princeton University Glee Club

On a recent brisk Monday afternoon, we paid the Princeton University Glee Club a visit to chat music, memory, and the early moments that make the music-lover. Returning to McAlpin Rehearsal Room on the tail of their annual joint concert with the Yale Glee Club – the first since fall 2019 – the students shared stories silly and sweet. The following responses were provided in November 2022. 

On the Road (Kind of)

My first music lessons were part of a barter my father, a mechanic, struck with my teacher. While he worked on salvaging as much of her old car as he could, my 2.5-year-old self was struggling to play “Happy Birthday” and “Hot Cross Buns” on a piano that I could barely reach. – Bonnie Ko GS

My first musical memories are of my parents playing CDs in the car. There was an album of children’s songs called “Sharing the Same Stars” that we would always have on repeat during road trips. I’d try to harmonize and my sister would beg me to stop. – Sophia Root ’26

When I was little, my parents lived four hours apart. On the weekends, we drove down to go visit my dad, and my mom would play Broadway musical soundtracks on the little tape player in her car while my brother and I sang along. When I would play on the playground, I tried to imagine that my life was one of those musicals: I’d sing little songs narrating my life as I swung on the swing set or walked by the slide. – Laura Robertson ’24

Playing the (Holiday) Classics

My earliest musical memory is Christmas day when I was five years old. I had begged my parents for a violin, but instead, Santa got me a keyboard. I was so disappointed. How could Santa have made such a big mistake! After a few piano lessons I ended up loving piano, and I still play today. Who knows what would have happened if Santa had brought me what I actually asked for… maybe I would have become a violinist! – Joshua Warner ’26 

I saw The Nutcracker with my mom when I was four years old at DeVos Hall in Grand Rapids, where I grew up. I remember getting all dressed up to go, and my mom bought me a ballerina Christmas ornament that I still have to this day. I’ve since performed The Nutcracker four times. – Kennedy Dixon GS1

I remember going to the ballet at Lincoln Center and seeing Swan Lake when I was probably six or seven years old. The music, the dancing, everything was magic and I remember not wanting it to end. – Lena Molyneux ’25

My first musical memory that really stuck with me was going to the Academy of Music in Philly when I was about five or six and seeing Hänsel und Gretel by Humperdinck with my mom. I can still remember the set and costumes that Hansel, Gretel, and the Witch wore, the huge oven that they tossed the Witch into, and the children’s chorus at the end. The broad range of musical emotions and colors really held me captive and imprinted vividly into my musical memories. – Corinna Brueckner ’23

We’re In The Band

My mom is a Kathak Dance teacher. Hearing her perform and teach to the Indian tabla and bells every evening was what sparked my interest in music. – Ishan Saha ’26 

My dad is in a cover band and I think my first musical memory that I can remember is hearing him play at a festival on a floating stage, specifically “867-5309/Jenny.” – Halle Mitchell ’23

Nighty Noodles

My Dad sang “Yellow Bird” to me when I was born, but I don’t remember that. I do remember him singing lullabies to my sister and me every night when we were at his house until my sister fell asleep. She loved it, but I made him stop because it annoyed me, though I don’t remember why. I remember him singing “Lavender Blue (Dilly Dilly)” on repeat. – Laurie Drayton ’26

One of my earliest memories is of a CD that my parents used to put on to help me sleep called “The Town Around the Bend” which had silly lullabies on it. I still remember every word to the opening song “Nighty Noodles.” -Sydney Eck ’24

My mother studied piano in university and graduate school, so she would practice piano every day even after I was born. I vaguely remember hearing my mother play “Chopin’s Etude Op. 25 No. 11” as I was taking a nap as a toddler. – Yuyu Yasuda ’25 

I often fell asleep to a quiet playing of Vivaldi’s Spring that my mother put on after she sang her more conventional lullabies. – Misha Bilokur ’25 

(In)Auspicious Beginnings

When I was six, my parents, who noticed that I had an ear for singing, took me to audition for my elementary school choir. Not knowing what I was in store for, I came in crying and extremely nervous. After some aural exercises, the director was pleased and asked, “when can he start?” I became one of the youngest members of the choir, and have never not been in a choir since that moment. – Rafael Collado ’24

When I was about four years old I remember my piano teacher had a studio recital and it was going to be my first one, but I was too nervous to get on stage, so after my teacher made about ten attempts to convince me to play “Hot Cross Buns” I ended up sitting it out. – Emily Della Pietra ’24

As the youngest brother with two older sisters, I often felt the need to make myself known in my family, so, according to my mother, I liked to scream at my sisters. She decided to put that loud voice of mine to use by enrolling me in the Phoenix Boys Choir, where my first prominent music memory was singing a song about Route 66. – Braiden Aaronson ’25

My earliest musical memory is going to my older sister’s piano lessons when I was three or four years old and playing with toys in the corner while she learned “Mississippi Hot Frog” from the first piano book in the Suzuki Method. – Catherine Keim ’23

Dancing Around

My first musical memory was when I was around five years old, and I had a Bharathanatyam (South Indian classical) dance performance. I was so angry in my costume because it was so itchy, but it felt so beautiful to dance on stage, forgetting all of the choreography but having so much fun with my friends! – Shruti Venkat ’23

Some of my first musical moments at school took place in a music class with Dr. Bell in Kindergarten: we would listen to classical music and learn about the different families of instruments and dance around the classroom. I also got some exposure to RnB music from the time I spent with my babysitter Sammayyah: she would play Alicia Keys on the radio and I still cherish and draw from those influences as inspiration in my current singing. – Haaris Mian ’23

One of my first memories is of singing and dancing to the Ghostbusters theme song on Halloween night with my mom and dad. I remember it incredibly fondly. – Claire Dignazio ’25

I was four years old and I heard my older sister practicing piano downstairs in our living room. I was so moved by the music and felt so free, so I imagined I was a ballerina and started prancing around. That moment made me want to learn how to play the piano myself. – Navani Rachumallu ’26

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