The Washington family enjoyed music throughout their life.

George Washington once wrote, "Nothing is more agreeable, and ornamental, than good music."1 Washington valued the music of the fife and drums during his military career and as president music served him in both ceremonial and honorific ways. Mrs. Washington, as well as her children and grandchildren, studied music. Most notably, the Washingtons’ granddaughter, Eleanor “Nelly” Custis was accomplished on the harpsichord.

Music

Music

While George Washington may not have been musically-inclined, he was the head of a household who studied and played music. 

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Harpsichord Replica

Harpsichord Replica

Since July of 2016 John Watson, Conservator of Early Keyboard Instruments, has been working to create a replica of Nelly Custis's 1793 Longman & Broderip 2-Manual Harpsichord.

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Community and Tradition

Community and Tradition

Music was an important part of daily life for enslaved people. Singing and dancing could continue African traditions, make work more bearable, express religious faith, and provide an outlet for sorrow, joy, and hope. 

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Notes

1. George Washington, "General Orders, June 4, 1777," The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799, Vol. 8, ed. John C. Fitzpatrick (Washington, DC:  United States Government Printing Office, 1931), 181-2.

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