Peabody Johns Hopkins University Magazine

Music’s Healing Bond 

Music’s Healing Bond 

Headshot of Madison Strempek

The day after 10-year-old Madison Strempek found out her father was in jail, she showed up at the Peabody Preparatory, instrument in hand, for her violin lesson with Louise Hildreth-Grasso. It is these violin lessons that helped to pull Madison through her most difficult days, she writes in her new book, Everyone Makes Mistakes: Living with My Daddy in Jail.

“Violin has helped me get through Daddy being in jail,” Madison writes. “Sometimes when Daddy calls from the jail, I’ll play the songs I’m working on for him. He loves it because he usually never hears me practice, so it makes him happy.”

Playing the violin on the phone solidifies a unique bond between Madison and her father, who is a classical trumpet player.

“You can send him letters, you can talk to him and try to make it easier for him to be in there, but the cool thing about music is she can play it through the phone, and he can hear a live performance,” says Robin Strempek, Madison’s mom. “He gives her advice about it. It’s like another language, another way to connect.”

Madison has now been taking lessons for six years with Ms. Hildreth-Grasso, who Madison says is “the most hilarious person on the planet.” She also attends Young People’s String Program group classes with Lenelle Morse and Lauren Rausch. An enthusiastic student and performer, Madison says she most looks forward to performing in recitals and getting to pick her own music.

Ms. Strempek says the routine and structure of coming to violin lessons and practicing at home has helped Madison. “Never give up or stop what you’re doing, because then you go into your turtle shell and get depressed,” says Ms. Strempek. “There’s a lot of healing through being around people and doing the things you love, even in sad times.”

Madison says she decided to write the book after her dad was imprisoned and she couldn’t find a book written on the topic by kids, for kids. Now available on Amazon, Everyone Makes Mistakes is a Top 100 book on Amazon.

— Carin Morrell