Thursday, August 14, 2008

Toddler Tunes

Vinny is a big music fan. This is at least in part because his parents are musically inclined. I started playing the violin at a young age and Jeff was in a boys' choir for a number of years.

But in addition to being predisposed to enjoy music, we've exposed him to a lot of music in the 22 months since he was born. (You might argue that we exposed him to a lot of music in utero, too.)

When I put him to bed, I always sing at least one song to him. Every night, we read (sing) Down by the Bay, which he absolutely adores, and then I sing "Can't Help Falling in Love." Despite my voice's bad reputation (my singing was once mistaken for the sound of someone being strangled by a snake), Vinny seems to enjoy it. Personally, I think that I may not have the best voice tone, but thanks to my perfect pitch, I'm never off-key.

Vinny loves Jack's Big Music Show, and from that show learned about the renowned children's singer/songwriter Laurie Berkner. Jeff bought a couple of Laurie Berkner CDs and put them on his iPod. Vinny can't get enough Laurie Berkner. His favorites include "I'm a Mess," "Under a Shady Tree" (which he refers to as "Twee"), and "Running Down the Hill" ("I-I-I-Wunning" -- from the lyrics).

He's always been fascinated by the piano. In February, we got it tuned, and he watched the piano tuner intently. When the man tested his tuning by playing, Vinny had to sit next to him and watch, and cried when ir was time for the piano tuner to leave.

He loves to play the piano too. He will actually sit on the piano bench and play for several minutes, which is remarkable, given the attention span of a toddler. He does more than just pound on the keys; he sometimes appears to be picking out a tune of some sort. And when he finds a sound that he likes, he repeats it before moving on to something else.

Something that's been interesting to watch is his musical development. He doesn't really sing yet -- he hasn't figured out how to make his voice change pitch -- but he definitely can distinguish singing from speaking. He also seems to have tunes going through his head: he'll break out with "I-I-I-Wunning...daaaw Hiw" (for example), even when he hasn't heard the song for quite some time.

Vinny sometimes sings along with music -- he especially enjoys singing along with the "Jack's Big Music Show" theme song. It is incredibly cute to hear. He knows to lengthen or shorten syllables with the rhythm, but like I said, he hasn't figured out how to change the pitch of his voice yet. He also claps to the rhythm of songs, and dances too. He is so cute when he dances. He jumps but he hasn't figured out how to get completely off the ground, so it's more like springing up to his tip-toes and back down.

I am looking forward to seeing how his musical talents develop. In a few years, I would like for him to take piano lessons, because one thing I regret is that for all the musical talent and skill that I have, I don't know how to play the piano. I don't plan to push him to pursue music, but we will definitely expose him to music through music lessons, and music fun at home. It will be interesting to see where his interests take him.

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