By Lauryn Halver | AUGUST 6, 2014
Monica Beal blends work as mom and pianist
Monica Beal is a local pianist and mom of two. Now, instead of using music as a career Beal uses it to help her ten year old son, who has Asperger syndrome, or simply Asperger’s.
At age eight, Beal began playing piano. Throughout high school she performed and participated in things like music camp at Northern Arizona University. However she did not believe she would be accepted at NAU until it happened. Her dream was to “write and publish music” though Beal did not think of music as a career path until high school.
During her 20s, Beal worked full-time as a paralegal and went to auditions on the weekends. She was able to fly to auditions in places such as New York because her dad worked for American Airlines and got her “buddy passes.” One of the hardest parts of auditioning was not getting the job when she had thought she “nailed it.”
In 1997, after ten years, Beal “tabled” her dream of being a pianist when she met her husband, who owned his own business. She stopped going to auditions and her main focus became being a “good wife and mom.”
When her son, now ten, was born pre maturely, there seemed to be something “off” because he was not happy like children normally are. Of all the toys he was given, there were only two he liked, one of which was a baby swing, as long as the music was not turned on. When he was crying, one of the few things that calmed him was Beal’s playing the piano. Even just simple notes held with the foot pedal.
At 1 to 1 1/2 years old, her son was diagnosed with having a sensory integration disorder or dysfunction (SID), which is having enhanced sensitivity to things like the sun, where the transition from indoors to outside in the sun or vice versa had to be done gradually. He then started occupational therapy, was placed in smaller classes and asked to be “more social.” He was kicked out of two preschools for throwing up and not wanting to participate in group activities due to sensory overload.
Finally, at age five, Beal’s son was diagnosed with Asperger’s, known as “high functioning autism” at that time. He then worked in therapy with Anita Warner who focused on pediatric speech and language and to make eye contact when talking to people.
Today he is in fourth grade and Spanish emergent at Desert Willow Elementary School. Beal describes him as “110 percent into his hobbies,” once even teaching himself Japanese so he could talk about Pokemon to Satoshi Tajiri, the creator of Pokemon. Often times he likes to be isolated in his room.
In March of this year, Beal came out with an EP, Little Lullabies, and is working on releasing four original songs and one cover in November 2014. Her music is geared toward children.
For more information visit iTunes, Amazon and her website, www.monicabeal.com.
Courtesy Photo / www.monicabeal.com