Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Music to my ears

When I was pregnant, I put headphones on my growing tummy and played music for my tiny tenant. Daily. I played a musical arc from violin to classic rock. The only songs off limits were the few Ludacris and DMX songs that made it onto my iPod back when I was a Solid Gold Dancer. Babies reportedly can sense rhythm and beat as early as three months. Even after he was born, I would play music while he was sleeping and sing to him constantly.

When our son was about sixteen or seventeen months, we drove down to the beach in Florida. Its a long haul for a little one who no longer sleeps 20 hours per day. He did nap, but then he woke up and all my singing wasn't entertaining him in the least. So, on a whim, JohnnyMac put our Jimmy Buffett Live In Anguilla DVD in. Our son was mesmerized. For hours.

We aren't a "TV as babysitter" type family and admittedly, I was following the AAP's recommendation kids under two have a sans television life. But, Jimmy Buffett on a beach in Anguilla captured all of his attention. And when we tried to turn it off, he asked for more. So we decided to let him watch it, and tell him who it was, what he was seeing, and sing along with the songs.

And an amazing thing happened that day. Our son became highly interested in music.

It initially started only when he would get in Daddy's car. He started to ask for Jimmy Buffett. By name. And then he started to ask for "fins to the left, fins to the right" and "treat her like a lady". This list grew as he knew more and more songs. We were astounded because he only watched the DVD in the car on his 20 minute ride to school or back home. One day he was sick and as I laid in our bed with him and he looked at me with those big eyes and croaked "Jimmy please."

I, in a moment of foresight, suggested we work some other DVDs into the mix as we had a vacation involving a long drive coming up AND who knows what would happen if the Jimmy DVD got misplaced. I started with Billy Joel's Millennium concert DVD. And our son was hooked. He knew Billy Joel so well within a month or two that I uploaded all of the songs onto my iPod because he wanted to hear them anytime he was in the car. And I love hearing him try to sing along. Don't think I don't love driving down the road singing "My Life" with my two year singing "not on myyyyy tiiiiiiiiime."

He knows every song by name and don't think you don't get called out if you play the wrong one. Once, I didn't have the iPod plugged in, and in my attempt to be tricky as Billy was being requested from the back seat...over and over again, I played Jackson Browne and told our son it was Billy Joel. He said " I don't like this song. That's not Billy!" I had it coming.

Don't get me wrong, I have been singing the Alphabet song, Itsy Bitsy Spider, Thumbkin, Twinkle Twinkle etc for two years. But I will gladly take Coldplay over one more rendition of Tootie Ta. (If you don't know Tootie Ta, it's because you do not have kids or work in a kid-related environment. Clap your hands for yourself that you have never heard it. After the 100th time, its about as fun as changing diapers. )

I have since introduced other musical greats into the repertoire. Some introductions were successful and some were not. He did let me declare every Thursday is "New Music Thursday. " We listen to new songs before he demands I play his other favorites. Even for me, Billy has a limitation. While Willie Nelson and Bruce Springsteen received a lukewarm reception ( I will work on this), our son loves the Beatles and the Beach Boys. He also likes "Fergalicious" so poor JohnnyMac had to put it on his iPod too.

But our son's interest in music is a beautiful beautiful thing. Uncle Donnie got him his first guitar and he carried it around with him for months. Do you know the attention span of wee people? Months translates to decades at that age. Our son graduated to a 9 piece drum pad, a real keyboard with microphone, and a real acoustic guitar for Christmas. And if Billy is on, he will play his guitar or his keyboard and try to imitate. His parents LOVE music and I hope my son embraces this interest for life.

And don't think for a minute Dance Party is left out. There will always be time for Dance Party.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Jennifer, I loved reading this. I did the same thing with Emmett when I was pregnant. We now have date night every Friday and see live music at a bookstore, he has a harmonica and two guitars, and we dance and sing in the car as well. There are alot of free music shows and outdoor concerts over spring and summer here and we catch as many as possible. Nice work! - Lexi