Baby, You’ve Got The Music In You — What You Do With It Is Up To You

A musical odyssey of sorts

Toya Qualls-Barnette
5 min readApr 12, 2021
Cute child of color playing the piano
Image by Smith Pereira (Pixabay)

It was love at first plink when I could stand on my tippy toes with my chin scrapping the edge of the keyboard of my grandparents’ piano. Fascinated by the sound I’d plunk, bang, thump — do whatever my tiny fingers could do to make the instrument talk back to me.

Music is in my DNA. My paternal grandmother was a classically trained pianist who played and sang with the Fisk Jubilee University choir in the early 1900s. The touring ensemble composed of African American students sang spirituals acapella to raise funds for college. My dad could play too.

My maternal grandfather was a self-taught jazz piano player, as was his mother — side hustles for both. Little did I know, my musical journey would become a live wired thread weaving itself throughout my life like a magic carpet ride.

Classical music stirred something in my young soul when I was seven. Fur Elise, by Beethoven, imbedded in my memory like a worn chip still plays in the background anytime I reflect on that phase of my childhood. The intro still haunts.

Mom, a single parent by then, was lucky to find Mrs. Goings, my babysitter, who lived down the street from us.



Toya Qualls-Barnette

*Top writer in This Happened To Me| Writing about the impact of relationships|Contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul| Dreamer|Mother|HSP in drag