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Lullaby Project: Sleep Peacefully, Mother and Child

Part of Carnegie Hall’s Musical Connections program, the Lullaby Project creates musical experiences for pregnant women and new mothers. The project invites participants to work with professional artists to write a personal lullaby for their babies, which can ultimately strengthen parent-child attachment. Since 2011, more than 350 participants in both the New York City area and at 15 sites across the country have joined the project. Tamilles Fernandes and Elsa Negron are two mothers who chose to share the gift of song with their children through the Lullaby Project. They also had the unique opportunity to hear their lullabies performed in Zankel Hall and recorded by mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato. They each reflect on their experience in the project and the positive impact it has had on their lives and those of their children.

Tamilles Fernandes

Tamilles Fernandes (Lullaby)

What was the message of your lullaby?

The message of my lullaby was that even though many things were going through my mind at that time and I was unsure of my feelings during my pregnancy—just like many mommies to be—I still wished my baby peace.

How did (or does) your child react when he hears his lullaby?

My son has been listening to his lullaby since before he was born ... literally! So now that he’s two-and-a-half and he’s able to understand the words a little more, he’ll sometimes sing along with me.

How has creating a lullaby impacted you?

Being a part of the Lullaby Project has been an experience I will never forget. It has brought so many positive things and people into my life. I now listen to music differently—I am able to connect to it at a different level. I focus more on the lyrics and the meaning behind them and how they can relate to my life. It also has made me appreciate artists even more for pouring their heart and soul into their own projects. I will pass on to my son the importance of expressing in words what you feel in your heart.

What was it like to have your song performed by Joyce DiDonato and later recorded?

Honestly, it was an honor to meet Joyce—she was so sweet and loving. I was lucky enough to be present in the recording process and experience it all firsthand. I had to pinch myself a couple of times to see if it was real life or just a dream. Those were unforgettable moments I will forever cherish.

Elsa Negron

Elsa Negron (Lullaby)

What was the message of your lullaby?

The message I wanted to send to my daughter and future children is that you can do anything you set your mind to do. This also goes for anyone!

How did (or does) your child react when she hears her lullaby? 

Matilda loves hearing it—especially when it comes to the end where she hears her name!

How has creating a lullaby impacted you?

Being a part of this has changed my thinking about going back to college and realizing what other skills or hobbies I have that I didn’t recognize before. It just goes to show you that even when you have a bump in the road to success, something great is waiting for you at the end of the tunnel.

What was it like to have your song performed by Joyce DiDonato and later recorded?

I was astonished that anyone—especially a famous musician and an opera singer at that—wanted to sing my song. I was so excited and blessed to know that I touched her with my words. This goes to show me that even though it’s a lullaby for a child, the words are meant for anyone of any race, religion, gender, or age.

What do you wish for your child and for your lullaby in the future? 

I wish that someday Matilda gets to share this song with her children or other people she encounters—I think it’s a universal song. And I hope it helps her to never forget how much of an impact she made in her parents’ lives when she entered this world.

Hear songs from the Lullaby Project, as recorded by the mothers and teaching artists.

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