Dear Mr. Miranda,
I know we are a bit late to the party but my family has recently discovered the Hamilton soundtrack in advance of the production coming to Chicago. I want to say thank you. Your work has taught my teen so very much.
My family has all learned a great deal from your lyrics. Here are a few lessons my soon-to-be high school freshman has taken from Hamilton:
1. History is awesome.
I know this is obvious, but it’s important. But when fireworks were going off for the 4th of July, she was talking about troops in New York Harbor and Yorktown and understanding more than she had before about our nation’s fight for freedom. When we visited Fort Ticonderoga, my normally shy girl noted the plaque commemorating the famous people who had been at the fort, and inquired as to whether Hamilton had been there as George Washington’s right hand man. I loved that she was not only interested, but wanting to know more.
You made history not only accessible, but also intriguing to her. Thank you for making her want to learn more.
2. Vocabulary really is key.
In your lyrics, every single word counts. This is a child who is typically pretty happy to skip over a word with which she’s not familiar and figure she has the gist of the text. (Yes, this tendency of hers kills me.)
With the lyrics of Hamilton, however, if there’s a word she doesn’t know, she looks it up and is checking in with us to make sure she has the right meaning.
3. Words are fun. Really, really fun.
The way you play with language is ingenious and she’s learned from you that language and words are fun to play with. Your homonyms, homophones, alliteration, and rhymes have shown her the wonderful way words work.
4. How to approach textual analysis.
We listen to a song and then she pours over the lyrics and we talk about them and break them down. She’s never done this before but what she learned to. Doing this with Rise Up helped her see the importance of digging deeper, exploring multiple meanings, and how analysis can bring so much more meaning. I was delighted to see the light bulb come on for her.
5. Appreciation of complexity and that situations, as well as people, are rarely black and white.
My daughter has just completed middle school, a time when peers are especially complicated and sometimes confusing. She’s at an age where she can recognize that people are typically not all good or all bad. You give Burr enough dimension that he’s not just a bad guy.
You’ve helped her learn to appreciate that people, their motivations, and their relationships are complex, often extremely so.
There are situations where it is best to “talk less, smile more” and others where it’s better to be “divisive than indecisive.” Through you she’s seen how each approach has both benefits and drawbacks.
6. Love is love is love.
Your speech at the Tony Awards was so poignant, and not because it was a chance to explain what a sonnet is to her. (Though I did appreciate that, too.)
7. Encouragement to try new things.
My daughter was a little crushed when she heard you were leaving the production and when you took your final bow in New York City this weekend. You departure from the show on Saturday, however, was an awesome opportunity to talk about trying new things, and the importance of taking steps outside of your comfort zone to tackle new adventures. Thanks for teaching her how to say goodbye.
Most of all, I’m grateful that my whole family has connected more thanks to Hamilton. Your work has strengthened our bonds and been common ground for both important conversations and shared laughs, both of which are key to parenting during the teenage years. Thank you.
We wish you well, and can’t wait to enjoy your new projects like the music for Moana and the new Mary Poppins movie.
I trust that you’ll keep delighting and teaching us, ad please know I’m grateful for how you’ve already done both.
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