Give Her an Instrument, She'll Learn How to Play It

  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Michelle Cann

Michelle Cann says her parents pushed her to do all she could with music. From the Top hide caption

toggle caption From the Top

Pianist Michelle Cann, 18, was born into a very musical family. Her father conducts a school band, chorus and steel drum ensemble, and her older sister is a concert pianist.

"From the age of seven, when I started piano, my parents pushed me to do all I could with music," she says. Sometimes, when her father's various musical groups needed more members, he recruited Michelle to join. That often meant learning a new instrument.

"During the 18 years of my life, I've played trombone, violin, steel drums, bells, guitar, tuba and organ, in addition to piano," Michelle says.

Although Michelle grew up immersed in a musical environment, she didn't actually start loving music until she was around 12.

"I think at that point it just clicked and I realized that music could be fun and that practicing had its benefits," she says. "I started to realize that the notes weren't the only important things," she explains. "What really transformed the music on a page to actual music was the performer's personal touch. I wanted my ideas and my feelings to come through."

Michelle plays the fourth movement from the Piano Sonata No. 1 by Alberto Ginastera.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from