by Jan Stadtherr
When I was a child, and now a grandmother, music has always been a part of my life. It’s so gratifying that it has carried on to the grandchildren as well.
As a first grader in Cook, Minnesota, I remember singing in a program in the school gym. A couple came up to my parents afterward, patted my blonde head, and referred to me as a bird. Probably not because I had a good voice, but I was the loudest.
Perhaps that inspired my parents to give me accordion lessons, a popular instrument in the 1950s. The instructor, Chuck Stella, came to our home to teach me. Even though I was only a first grader, I knew he was tall, dark and handsome! One of the first songs I learned was “Drink to Me Only with Thine Eyes,” a song just a bit suggestive for a young tyke like me, although I didn’t know it at the time. After two years of lessons, we moved from Cook to Babbitt, and the lessons came to an end.
My parents were very generous and enrolled me in tap dance and baton lessons, both involving music. I’ve always enjoyed dancing, and I can still remember some of the tap-dance moves. In the sixth grade, I took up the clarinet that I played throughout high school. Again, one of the first songs I learned was the “Drink to Me Only” song. Piano and organ lessons were also included in my musical journey through junior and senior high school. After high school, I was a short-lived organist for our church. My nerves got the best of me, and I wasn’t a good sight-reader. My mother would always say, “You have to practice more.” I would have rather given the sermon as I enjoy public speaking. I continued to play for my own enjoyment but haven’t played in 20 years. I continue to sing in the church choir.
One of my favorite past times as an adult was performing in musicals in community theatre. I usually played a comedic role of an elderly woman. All that practice paid off since I am almost elderly. (What age is elderly?)
Attending concerts continued as my three children enjoyed music through their school years. While in elementary school, there were many spontaneous concerts in the living room performed as a solo, duet or trio as we, the parents, seated on the couch, would applaud their efforts. Their college years also included choir and/or band.
The same is true with the performances of the grandchildren in the coming years. While the oldest of the nine grandchildren will graduate from high school this year, I remember Jordan’s many grandparents’ day programs, choir and band concerts, and the musicals which he performed in. It was wonderful to watch him, and I yearned to be on the stage with him!
When the two youngest grandchildren, Colton and Clarice, come to grandma’s and papa’s house, it’s a weekend of music, dance and laughter. Our “Alexa” is put to good use as four-year-old Colton requests his and Clarice’s favorite songs such as “The Excavator,” ‘Baby Shark,” “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt,” and many more. A new song to the grandparents is, “It’s Poo-Poo Time.” Yes, you read correctly. It’s one of many educational songs from Pinkfong, a South Korean educational entertainment company, focused on teaching healthy habits to children from ages one to five. They have created over 4,000 songs and videos for children.
Having written about bathrooms, toilet paper, bidets, etc., in prior columns, of course I was attracted to the lyrics and the catchy tune of the animated video – “Toot, toot, toot! Toot, toot, toot! Push, push! Farty, farty, wiggle, wiggle! Here it comes! Push, push! Is it out? Push, push! How about now? One, two, three, four! Push! Plop, plop, I did it!”
I laughed as I watched the little ones perform the actions to the song. This grandmother never thought her grandkids would be singing poop songs. There were no such songs when I was a child, or when I raised my children. Times have certainly changed. But music is a universal language. It’s understood by all mankind. And if it is helpful in potty training my grandchildren, so be it! I am blessed!