Guitar Heroine

Guitar Heroine

FITL's Live It - Love It Career Series

Being part of Families in the Loop has lots of perks. At the top of the list is the incredible group of Chicago professionals and business owners I’ve come to know over the past year. Each day they’re hard at work, achieving excellence in their industries and inspiring dreamy entrepreneurs like me to keep going.  So this month I’m dedicating the Families in the Loop blog to these Chicago superstars. And since it’s the month of love, I’ve added a twist. I have asked these experts to share how love has factored into their career choice. Was it love at first sight? How about a breakup? Find out here, all throughout the month of February. Parents, it’s time to recharge our career batteries with FITL’s “Live It - Love It” career series.

Guitar Heroine

By Ann Torralba, a.k.a. Little Miss Ann

At the end of fourth grade, my band teacher basically told me I shouldn’t continue playing the flute.  I was relieved.  I didn’t exactly pick the flute myself, and it didn’t really make sense for someone with asthma to play a wind instrument.

Years later, at 19, I fell in love with the guitar when I first heard Joni Mitchell.  That day, I impulsively went to a music store and traded in my $400 dusty old flute for an $85 classical guitar.  The guy behind the counter was practically drooling from the uneven trade.  Then I discovered open mike night at a Rogers Park coffeehouse underneath the L platform.  Every week, I would take my beginner guitar along with my beginner guitar skills to perform, sometimes with a friend and sometimes alone.

Usually, I covered songs by artists like Michelle Shocked and Suzanne Vega.  I had to arrive early to sign up to play three songs, and I remember feeling nervous and excited while waiting through all the other acts for my turn.  When it was finally my turn, I would often find myself giggling uncontrollably from nervousness.  While I had potential and an endearing stage presence, there were some awkward moments. Luckily, week by week, I gradually got better.

As time went on, I found different ways to keep music in my life.  When I became a full-time special education teacher, I used to play my guitar for my students with autism.  At night, I played in a band called Jank with friends for fun.  Then Jank broke up shortly after band members started having children.

When my own daughter was 3 years old, I decided not to work as a special education teacher anymore. Suddenly, I was at home with a small child and had a lot more time on my hands than I was used to.  I started playing music for the other families in the neighborhood as a way of building community.  Then I began teaching the cult Chicago kids classes known as Wiggleworms at the Old Town School of Folk Music. Eventually, three things pointed me in the direction of making a CD for kids: a very enthusiastic mom in one of my classes, listening to Elizabeth Mitchell, and a desire to be a different kind of role model to young kids.

As you can see, it has been a bit of a musical journey for me.  I’ve been playing “kindie” music for more than seven years now throughout Chicago and beyond.  Whenever I play or sing music, it feels like falling in love again over and over.  I’m so glad my relationship with music didn’t end with the flute and my fourth grade band teacher.

About Ann Torralba, a.k.a. Little Miss Ann

In a great city called Chicago there is a 5'2 woman (thus the name) playing a guitar and singing tunes for kids. "Little Miss Ann" has been teaching at the pride of Chicago's Old Town School of Folk Music for 7 years. At Old Town, she sings with the wee ones and their parents tunes that they can't get out of their heads.

"Little Miss Ann" brings a different sound and face to kids music. She uses her experience as a first-generation filipina-american woman, a Chicago Public school teacher, mother, and band frontwoman to inspire a grand ole time. "Little Miss Ann" and her husband enjoyed making this kids' cd together. After putting their then 4-year old daughter down to bed, they would go down into the basement of their home and practice their tunes together. Time Out Chicago has named Little Miss Ann one of 8 of the "Most Influential Kids Musicians" in Chicago as well as "One of the Best Things to Happen to Chicago Kids".

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