Olive Wallace didn’t want to do her homework, so she practiced the violin in her Pennsylvania home.
The 10-year-old aimed to create a medieval-style melody, but when she played it after elementary school last month, Olive thought her rendition sounded terrible. She left her handwritten score on the counter when she went to sleep.
Olive’s mother, Mimi, found the sheet music and wondered how the song would sound. The next morning, she posted a video on TikTok that showed the score, which she asked other users to perform.
Musicians across the world have since brought Olive’s composition to life — a result that has shocked but elated Olive and Mimi.
“I really didn’t think it was going to be what it became,” Mimi, 42, told The Washington Post. “I was hoping to get like 500,000 views.”
“Well,” Olive added, “you got 6 million.”
Olive’s mom and dad can casually play cello and guitar, respectively, but Olive didn’t explore music until the fourth grade. She joined her friends in the orchestra in 2021 at her school in West Grove, Pa.
At first, Olive felt she wasn’t skilled and wanted to quit. But she stuck with the violin and later learned to write sheet music and play the clarinet. She also joined the school choir. Olive enjoyed listening to soundtracks from her favorite movies and TV shows, including “Stranger Things,” “The Lord of the Rings” and “Harry Potter.”
Olive had also started a blog and recorded podcasts about a fantasy world she’s designing that includes “elps,” creatures that preceded mankind. Olive aspired to create music that would fit the spirit of her fantasy world — a tune that switched between dramatic and calm tones.
She wrote the notes with pencil on a sheet of paper in her room, which she said took about a half-hour. Without telling Olive, Mimi published a video with the score Feb. 16.
“So my 10-year-old daughter wrote this,” Mimi, a third-grade teacher, said in a 10-second video. “Could somebody play this? I need to know; I need to know if it’s any good or if it makes any sense.”
Within a few hours, Mimi said the TikTok had received about a million views, and musicians had already started playing the score. Mimi informed Olive about the video, which upset the fifth-grader, who feared her sheet music appeared unprofessional. But when Olive watched a pianist play her music, she was in awe.
In the following days, musicians played the score on a violin, clarinet, guitar, harp, trumpet, flute, saxophone, cello and viola. Olive named the song “For Greatness We Bring.” She had imagined the melody slower than most people played it, but she said a string orchestra performed it perfectly.
The conductor of that orchestra, Christopher T. F. Hanson, said he saw Mimi’s TikTok on his recommended video feed while he was attending a music conference in Bellevue, Wash. Hanson was conducting a music reading session there Feb. 16, and he thought performing Olive’s notes would be fun and inspiring for young musicians.
Hanson said he transcribed the melody and modified the score for the orchestra’s instruments. With little practice, about 50 musicians in a hotel ballroom performed the piece for nearly two minutes, and Hanson posted the TikTok the following day.
Hanson, the director of music education at Seattle Pacific University, said he hopes to release the song on streaming services and donate its proceeds to music educators.
“I saw it as such a beautiful example of how the 21st century can utilize technology and social media to connect people,” Hanson said. “Because she scrawled some notes on a page, because I can read music and I have access to a community that makes music, we’ve now connected with literally millions of people.”
Olive also attracted attention at school, where she said classmates requested her autograph. Mimi’s original video has received about 6.2 million views.
In addition to the composition she wrote for the violin, Olive said she wants to compose her song for the cello and viola. Mimi recently bought sheet music paper for Olive, who now wants to play the violin professionally.
Olive also loves drawing and animating, so she and Mimi recently brainstormed an idea: Olive could animate and produce music for videos.
“Oh my gosh, that would be amazing for your ‘elps,’” Mimi said. “I like that. We might’ve just planted that seed.”