Samantha and I introduced a new puppy into our home and teaching studio in the winter of 2015. With piercing blue eyes and a striking patch of white fur down the back of her head, this adorable eight week old Siberian Husky quickly became a favorite among our piano students. Because of her playful nature, we decided to call her Leika (pronounced lahyk-ah), which means “to play” in Icelandic.
Surrounded by sounds of piano lessons, group music classes, and children’s laughter, Leika quickly developed a keen ear and love of music. After several weeks in this musical environment, she began singing along to piano pieces during lessons (which proved to be a bit disruptive at times, but that’s another story!) Leika’s affinity, however, didn’t stop there. We then began to notice that she seemed to prefer certain pieces and certain types of playing more than others. It soon became clear: Leika had favorites! She was especially fond of pieces with strong rhythmic characteristics, and would sing at the top of her lungs to sprightly, energetic music, while completely ignoring mellower selections. More remarkably, she seemed to prefer certain playing styles over others. If a piece were performed with weak rhythm, she would completely ignore it, but if it were played with compelling rhythm, she would sing her heart out. Who would have thought a baby dog would be capable of making such distinctions?
Over the years, Leika (now three years old) has developed an even keener sense of musical taste, and has now shown that she favors certain keys over others. For example, if a piece is performed in F Major or A Major (her current favorites), she will sing along with great enthusiasm; if it is transposed into a neighboring key, she may completely ignore it. We hesitate to claim that a dog could have absolute pitch, but at the very least it seems she is able to clearly distinguish one key from the next.
Leika’s musical journey has been such a source of inspiration to us that we decided to name our company after her. Her gentle, loving disposition, her inherently musical nature, and her positive spirit embody all that we at Musikal Husky believe in.
*Steve Aho is one of the co-founders of Musikal Husky. Musikal Journeys is a monthly blog series that will feature inspiring music-related stories.