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Ruth Kuefler

A little musician in the making?

May 24, 2009 at 8:12 PM


I love it when we get to babysit my adorable niece Ashley She's about 10 months old now, and it's been incredible to watch her grow and develop. I have two younger brothers, but we're pretty close in age, so I can't remember too much about how they grew up. With Ashley, we've been able to babysit her about once a month, so I've seen all her fascinating stages of development so far.


Right now, she's much more active and inquisitive. Instead of just watching fascinating people and objects, or making noises at them, she'll touch and grab at them. The first time I picked her up this weekend, she immediately reached for my braces and the necklace I was wearing. She can say 'mama' and 'dada,' and can get up on all fours for a few seconds, but isn't quite crawling yet. Most of the time she just sits up and plays with her toys.


The most interesting development though, is how she responds to music. She loves having music playing in the background, especially higher pitched, more peppy songs. She'll smile and start 'dancing' — bouncing up and down, waving her arms, clapping her hands. It's sooo cute. Her favorite thing is this cute stuffed doggie that plays short nursery rhymes and children's songs: everything from The Itsy Bitsy Spider to the alphabet song. I also played my ukulele for her, which she seemed to like. She especially enjoys familiar melodies; she reacted much more animatedly when I sang and played "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" than when I played the chords to  Louis Armstrong song, for example. 


Another thing I did was sing her this lullaby: when she was winding down for naptime. I had been rocking her in the rocking chair, but she didn't really settle down and relax till I started singing. I sang the words first, and then as she was drifting off, I just hummed the melody. It worked great. After her nap I noticed she was very affectionate towards me. I would smile, rub noses with her, and kiss her forehead a couple times, and after that, she started leaning towards me so we could touch noses. I wonder if it was just the nap putting her in a good mood, or the fact that my singing to her made her feel closer to me? Who knows.


It's so amazing how strongly she responds to music. Apart from people, it is the thing that most animates and entertains her. I can't wait too see how she develops next. Will she learn to imitate rhythms? "Sing" along with her songs? Next time she visits I'll have to test these things. I hope I get to teach her violin someday. That would be so much fun! From what I can see, she has all the makings of an awesome "Twinkler." :)


From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on May 24, 2009 at 10:32 PM

It's a good start,  beware such kids can turn into violinists... lol!!!


From Donna Clegg
Posted on May 25, 2009 at 12:26 AM

Your niece is precious and it's wonderful that you are getting to watch her grow.

From Bill Busen
Posted on May 25, 2009 at 7:05 PM

she reacted much more animatedly when I sang and played "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star"

Scratch oboe...trumpet...let's see, what would be a good instrument for her...

From Bethany Morris
Posted on May 26, 2009 at 12:47 PM

According to early childhood music specialist John Feierabend, if a mother sings a certain song to her baby while he is in the womb, that song will be the best at calming him after he is born.  Isn't that interesting?  I think that all babies are hard-wired for music.

From Rosalind Porter
Posted on May 26, 2009 at 1:52 PM

Awww, this is so sweet - she's very lucky to have her Aunty Ruth in charge of her music! 

I remember reading recently how a child psychologist was regretting how many modern babies grew up without being sung to by their parents or carers.  I think you are going to need to build up a big repertoire of nursery rhymes and other children's songs!   She'll soon start saying - "I know that one - don't you have any new songs for me?!"

From David Allen
Posted on May 26, 2009 at 6:42 PM

Anne Akiko Meyers attributes her love of music to her mother's exposing her to it on a systematic basis beginning when she was in the womb. However, I think genetics must have played a role as well.

You have been given an awesome gift to be in a position to influence this person!

From Terez Mertes
Posted on May 27, 2009 at 4:38 PM

 What a cute pic - your niece looks like a living doll! And it's wonderful that you're there to note and encourage her interest in music. My son never reacted that strongly at that age (or ever), so I think you've definitely targeted a gift, or at least a strong ear for music/rhythm. Keep up the coaching!

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