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Traverse City artist brings kids in China hope amid pandemic

Maria Farney (bottom left) teaches a Chinese student (top left) a song written by Traverse City singer songwriter Miriam Pico (right).
Miriam Pico
Maria Farney (bottom left) teaches a Chinese student (top left) a song written by Traverse City singer songwriter Miriam Pico (right).

Traverse City singer songwriter Miriam Pico thought she was just writing a song to sing to her own kids. But now, kids in China are learning that song to help get through the COVID-19 pandemic. 

When Pico’s three kids were little, she’d often take her guitar into their room and sing them to sleep. One of those nights about 10 years ago, she wrote this lullaby for them. It’s called, "You are loved, loved, loved."

“My kids have always liked the song, so I started sharing it with their friends," says Pico, "and then it kind of grew.”

Now, during the coronavirus crisis, that song is bringing joy to kids in China thanks to Pico's aunt, Maria Farney.

Farney is a retired elementary school teacher who lives in Sault Ste. Marie. For the past three years, she's been teaching English to kids in China, remotely through an online video program.

When the coronavirus hit China, her students there were forced to stay cooped up inside all the time. Farney says after a while, she began noticing how much the lockdown and pandemic was taking a toll on them.

“You can imagine just how difficult that must be for a young child,” she says.

Then one day, Farney had an idea. Instead of conjugating verbs, Farney got out her guitar and decided to teach one of her elementary-aged students named Anna, a new song.

The song was “You are loved, loved, loved” — the one her niece, Pico wrote.

“She loved it," Farney says. "She had a great big smile and she learned the song very fast.”

After that lesson, Farney says she got a message from Anna’s parents.

It said, "Thank you for giving Anna an unforgettable lesson."

"And so I thought, ‘Oh my gosh!’ Farney says. "I had no idea it was going to be something so memorable.”

After that lesson, she began to teach her other students the song too.

“It just seemed to bring that breath of fresh air that they needed at that moment.”

When Pico saw the video of Anna learning her song, she started crying. She says music has always helped her get through hard times in her life. Now, she’s glad her music is doing the same for others during the coronavirus pandemic.

“I never thought my song would matter to any other kid besides my own at lullaby time at night, and now here it was being shown to kids in China at such a stressful time," says Pico. "It blew my mind.”

Pico says she’s now planning on making more music videos — for kids confined to their homes in Michigan and beyond.


Dan Wanschura is the Host and Executive Producer of Points North.