The Toddler has always been fond of music. We did our best to introduce as much of it as possible from early on. We had a special song from a Dutch children’s show that my husband and I sang for him in the bath, lullabies at bedtime, a ‘Mummy-is-busy-now-but-you-are-still-important”-song for during the housework and all manner of nursery rhymes for general amusement. Before my son was able to say much, my parents would sing him songs over Skype and he would join in with the actions once he knew them.
Something I have loved as the Toddler grew up has been seeing him develop favourites. At our local toddler group, he came to love Twinkle Twinkle. He would get excited when someone suggested singing it at the group, but he would also start singing it to himself in the car, randomly, or if he saw a star-shape anywhere. I was touched to find that I could tell what he was singing not just from the occasional word, but also from the tune. Two year old singing is more tuneful than I imagined it would be.
He has also developed opinions on what I sing to myself, which I do a lot, mostly subconsciously. If it is not to his liking, he will yell: “STOOOOOP! Poesje mauw!” Poesje mauw being a Dutch children’s song about a cat, which he prefers to any of my suggested songs. It is also his go-to suggestion if I ask him what we could sing for The Baby. If you want to get a (rather warped) idea of what it sounds like, check out this slightly disturbing rendition of it from a Dutch children’s channel.
From children’s songs and nursery rhymes, he has now moved on to taking an interest in the CDs I play him in the car. As soon as he is strapped in, he will ask for “Songs, Mummy?” He is also very decided about what he likes and doesn’t like. If a song comes on that he is not pleased with, he will start demanding I play something else at top volume until I change the track or crash into a tree out of frustration. If a song comes on that he does like, he will smile broadly and say “Yes!”. Then he will start bouncing up and down in his car seat and singing along. There is nothing quite like a toddler trying to pick up the words to a Destiny’s Child song – “Hm la happy faaaaaaace… mmm ahh sunshine”.
I have been amusing myself by trying to find a theme in his preferred songs – what is it that attracts him to them? Perhaps you can help. For your delectation and delight, I present to you My Son’s Favourite Music:
“Happy Face” by Destiny’s Child.
“I’ll Fly Away” from the O Brother, Where Art Thou soundtrack. This is his number one favourite and if I’d let him, we would listen to it on repeat all the way from our house to Gran’s (45 minutes).
“Don’t Stop Believing“, the Glee version. He calls this “Ta ta ta ta”.
“Proud” by Heather Small, which he refers to as “orange”, because of this karaoke version. Yes, the text changes to yellow not orange but give him a break, he’s two.
“Go Home” by Barenaked Ladies – which I have to make sure I stop just before the very last two words…
“Do you believe in magic?” by The Lovin’ Spoonful.
Looking for an underlying principle, it would seem his preference is for cheerful music with a strong beat. It also helps if there are frequently repeated, familiar words in it, preferably including ‘smile’ or ‘sunshine’ or something like that. Basically, as our friend Z observed, he likes cheesy inspirational songs.
The other thing I am loving is watching my son play around with music. He surprised me one day about six months ago by composing what I have called The Ballad of His Life. He was playing with his toy aeroplane and hit his teeth on it. He exclaimed “Pain! Neow [plane]! Pain!”. Then he instructed me to play on his toy piano and he grabbed the tambourine, started bouncing up and down to our improvised music and sang roughly the following (here translated into English, but it was a mix of Dutch and English:)
“nanana neow nanana pain nanana piano nanana neow nanana singing nanana Maisie nanana mouse nanana mummy nanana upstairs nanana bath nanana tortoise nanana teddy nana milk nana myam myam nanana please nanana mummy nanana daddy nanana Maisy”
I was just killing myself laughing.
Now he has started adapting existing songs by giving them new lyrics. His favourite for this at the moment is the Bunny Song from Veggie Tales. Bit of context: this is meant to be a ‘bad’ song, in which the Veggies are forced to sing something like “The bunny, the bunny, ooh I love the bunny. I don’t want my soup or my bread, just the bunny. I won’t eat my beans and I won’t eat tofu, that stuff is for sissies but bunnies are cool.” My son has taken to inserting this song into any situation.
1) Maisie Mouse/Bunny song mash up. “A bunny, a bunny, ooh a bunny. No beans. No peacocks. A bunny.”
2) No-not-Bedtime version: “A bunny, a bunny, ooh a bunny. No beans. No bed. No hugs.”
3) Numberjacks mash up: “A blob, a blob, ooh a blob. No blob. No slime. A blob.”
Aside from making up his own lyrics, the Toddler also likes making up his own notes. We have made sound-stories on the piano, which he loves. He will go up to the piano himself now and play very low notes saying: “Giants, stomp stomp”, then run to the top end and do the light fairy footsteps. Then he runs back to the middle and accompanies himself singing what is still his all time favourite nursery rhyme:
“Twinkle twinkle tee tee tar
Ha wonder what-oo are
Up above world so high
Tee tee diamond inna sky
Twinkle twinkle tee tee tar
Ha wonder what-oo are.”