Thursday, October 15, 2009

Bedtime Music

When the girls first came to live with us, they had a very difficult time settling down to sleep at night. As they cried that first night, scared and not understanding why their lives had so suddenly changed, my dad made a suggestion: music. Perhaps that would calm them. Help them sleep. Soothe their fears, even if temporarily.

We found a clock radio, and located the classical station out of the Maryland/D.C. area. I figured it would be the station most likely to lull them to sleep. All classical station DJs that I've heard have soothing, cultured voices that lessened the shock between music and voice. Not to mention that classical pieces are generally longer than the 3.5-minute songs on contemporary radio. And some studies have shown that classical music is brain food. (Or my astronomy professor is wrong about the effects of "Eine Kleine Nacht Muzik" on astronomy exams.)

Innyhoo, what started that first night is a pattern that continues today. Both rooms have clock radios in them, tuned to the same station. The sleep function lets the music play long enough for the girls to fall asleep.

I told you all that to tell you this story.

The kids have gotten hooked on the Playhouse Disney morning programs. I can handle these, so we watch them.

In particular, they really, really love Little Einsteins. I love it for several reasons. One, they're learning about the music. Two, they're seeing classic art. Three, they're learning different problem-solving skills without really knowing it. Large Fry will actually sit and watch an entire episode without running off to play with something more interesting.

Today's episode was a Halloween special, where they're going trick-or-treating and singing along with "In the Hall of the Mountain King" from Grieg's Peer Gynt Suite, Opus 46, to get enough candy for their party. To find the candy, they listen for the melody line from "Morning Mood," the first movement of the piece. The "ghosts" that seem to be following them are also signaled by the haunting melody line from "In the Hall of the Mountain King." As it turns out, the "ghosts" are merely their instrument friends. They have a marvelous party. Large Fry sang along with the trick-or-treat song after hearing it once or twice.

And I told you that story to tell you this one.

We're tucking the girls into bed tonight, and Large Fry started crying as soon as she got sent to her room after prayers. I told her I'd be in to hug and kiss her in just a minute, and hugged and kissed the twins good night. They did their usual stall tactic and wanted another round of hugs and kisses (it's such a hard thing, really), and Hubby went in to tuck Large Fry in while I finished up with the twins. As I closed their door and headed for Large Fry's room, I hear Hubby saying, "Auntie J will be right here and you can ask her then."

"Ask me what?" I say as I walk into her room.

"She wants you to lay with her for a little bit," Hubby tells me.

I smile down at Large Fry. "I think I can do that."

So I lay down with Large Fry for a bit, thinking that happiness is your four-year-old big girl wanting you to stay with her a bit in her big-girl bed and throwing her little arm across your shoulders because you have your arm wrapped around her.

The DJ comes on, speaking in a smooth and mellow voice, telling us about the piece we'd just listened to and a quick weather report before she announces the next piece. She says the name Edvard Grieg, and I perk up a bit. I wonder if the piece name she's just mentioned is the one from this morning's Little Einsteins show. I think it's the same, but they only mention the piece name once in the show, and I'm not sure it's the same.

The sweet, happy notes of "Morning Mood" begin. Large Fry picks up her head off the pillow, eyes wide as she stares at me. That she knows this music is all over her face. "You know this music, huh?"

Her grin widens as she nods.

"Do you remember where you heard it?"

She thinks, and I say, "Little Einsteins."

She nods again.

The music changes after a few minutes to the second movement. "No more Little 'steins?"

"I think it's still the same piece. We just haven't heard this part."

We lay there quietly and listen. She asks the same question as the third movement begins, and I give her the same answer.

As "In the Hall of the Mountain King," the fourth movement, begins, the same look of wonder appears on her face and she whispers, "Little 'steins," in an awed tone.

We listen through the rest of the piece, and then I give her a kiss and a hug and come downstairs.

I wouldn't have missed that for the world.

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