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Music was very important to George Washington. He once wrote, "Nothing is more agreeable, and ornamental, than good music." He valued the music of the fife and drums during his military career and as president music served him in both ceremonial and honorific ways. Although he may not have been musically-inclined himself, Washington was the head of a household where his wife, her two children, and her four grandchildren (two of whom were raised by the Washingtons) all studied music.As an adult, Martha Washington's grandson George Washington Parke Custis recalled that his sister, Eleanor (Nelly) Parke had to practice "very long and very unwillingly at the harpsichord. . .the poor girl would play and cry, and cry and play, for long hours, under the immediate eye of her grandmother, a rigid disciplinarian in all things."

George Washington ordered this top-of-the-line, double-manual harpsichord from London for his step-granddaughter Nelly Custis. It was shipped to Philadelphia in 1793 and then to Mount Vernon in 1797, where it stood in the "Common Parlour" (now called the Little Parlor). Nelly was regularly called upon to entertain family, friends and guests at the instrument. 

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