(Hudson’s my youngest, 5 years old now. Hudson has Down syndrome.)
Hudson’s adored music ever since he was a baby. I didn’t catch it at first. He was maybe 8 months old and we’d get in the car. I nearly always play music in the car. But every once in a while for one reason or other I’d forget to turn it on. And we’d drive for a minute or two, and Hudson would cry. I soon figured out that when I turned on the music, he’d be happy happy again. Worked like a charm.
When Hudson was just a little little baby, I’d sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star to him. Often. We spent seemingly days rocking together. First in the NICU, then afterward in his nursery rocking chair. From the very beginning, when all else failed, Twinkle Twinkle could solve anything. It even worked in the grocery store aisle when, as a toddler, he lion roared at every Tom, Dick and Harry we passed. (Read here: Shut Up and Listen) Hudson’s five now, and we’re still singing Twinkle Twinkle. He never tires of it, always delighted anew to hear his favorite song.
Hudson’s attended music therapy since he was eighteen months old locally at the Manchester Community Music School. He’s even famous (ha!), featured in their on-line digital view book. (You can see more of the view book here.) He gets really excited about going to music therapy each week. Learns all kinds of educational things set to music. Colors, rhythm, tone, speech, etc. And he also gets to see his beloved music therapist Christina.
It just so happens that Twinkle Twinkle and the Alphabet song are both the same tune. Did you know that? (Sure you did.) I’m embarrassed to say, and especially as a former early childhood Kindermusik educator, how late in life I realized that. But I think my singing Twinkle Twinkle so often somehow unwittingly set Hudson up for early success with his ABC’s. Because by the time Hudson turned three, he knew all his letters and sounds. He still can’t articulate many words, but he’s an ace with letters. Hudson loves the alphabet. And Hudson loves Twinkle Twinkle.
They say music is the universal language. And maybe Hudson’s love of music stems from being the youngest in a musical family. But it seems that children with special needs in particular, have an even deeper connection to the expressive. Music, art, dance. It seems to be a vital part of their communication, a deep connection to a world they can’t always communicate in conventionally.
A friend was telling me about taking her little granddaughter to a dance recital last weekend. Her granddaughter is five years old, also has Down syndrome. This little girl was riveted, “danced” in her chair the entire recital, nearly an hour and a half long. Towards the end, she got out in the aisle, danced along for the last ten minutes or so. Can’t imagine too many people watched the recital on stage with such an expressive solo recital in the aisle. Neither she nor Hudson have many words, but music and dance are beautiful ways they express themselves.
So last week it was Charlie’s piano recital at the music school. It started in the evening right at Hudson’s bedtime. Sadly Hudson’s been sick for weeks now…heavy congestion that just won’t quit. (We’re working with an ENT for answers, but none yet.) Jon and I were debating whether both of us should go to the recital. Usually one of us misses for this very reason. Hudson doesn’t do well sick and up past his bedtime. But we took a gamble, decided to take him. Had plan B, an extra car, in case it didn’t go well. Hoped for the best. Especially for the performers!
Charlie’s up first, plays The Flight by Faber. All goes well. (With Charlie and Hudson.) The next few pieces go ok for Hudson, but he gets a little antsy. Squirms, needs a nose wipe, makes occasional Hudson noises, etc.
Then comes “the” moment of the evening.
A tiny little girl by the name of Edythe marches to the grand piano. No sheet music, she climbs up on the piano stool and boldy plinks out her piece. Loud, authoritative.
In my peripheral vision I see Hudson straighten up, pay attention. His face lights up like the new dawn. This is it. Grinning from ear to ear, Hudson is in his element. He knows this piece, every note, backwards and forwards. The final note echoes, then that brief milli-second of silence before the bow and applause. Eyes sparkling, Hudson peeks at me, then Jon. Arms stretched wide, poised, ready to clap, cheer. So excited. He claps longer, louder, more enthusiastically than anyone in that recital hall. He’s her biggest little fan. Hudson lasts just one more number that night and then Jon takes him home. But it’s a magical night all the same.
As I write now, Hudson sits on the sofa, listens to his favorite Kindermusik Fiddle Dee Dee CD.
“Ick, ick.” That’s how he asks for music.
The song playing is the operatic Meow by Rossini. Hudson’s laughing hysterically, giggling, hee heeing. The funniest thing he’s ever heard. (Tickles my funny bone too.) Hudson loves this song too, loves music.
Keep shining, keep twinkling my littlest star.
Related post: Embrace the Gift
Oh, what a sweet story about our little star! With Hudson, it’s Twinkle Twinkle…(and no, I never connected ABCD with Twinkle Twinkle, either — must be genetic…) With his Auntie Lisbeth, the most soothing song has always been “Jesus Loves Me”. We’ve gotten through many shots, surgery preps, scary waits at the dentist’s, and even haircuts singing “Jesus Loves Me.” Loudly and authoritatively. Jesus never fails!
Aunt Pinkie says
Love this story! Am so glad Hudson loves music! It’s a good leveler, isn’t it? Incidentally, had never heard of Rossini’s ‘meow’ before!
Linda Jenkins says
I learned something new…I, too, never realized that both songs had the same notes. I sang them all the time to my own children. I must have been too involved with the children to even hear the notes. Well, maybe it could be that I am not the best singer; have a hard time carrying a tune. My strengths lie elsewhere. I love this story, for once again it proves that the entire world is in God’s hands. You took a chance when you brought Hudson to the recital, and that little girl took a chance when she sat down to play her song for the audience. God rewarded that trust and brought joy to all in attendance. God provided a miraculous blessing to everyone. Love your stories, Allie. And I love the adorable picture of Hudson.
Nancy Hammett says
Thank for sharing this post . Love Hudson sweet smile and his eyes twinkle like little stars.
nancy mcmahan says
Music. .. does the soul good. Even Meow.lol. I learned something today also, ABC and twinkle twinkle. When I taught 2-3 year Olds we sang those songs alot. Hudson is a treasure. Keeps your life grounded, something we all can use more of.
Tell Hudson, the meow song is one of my favorites too!
Susie Mandel says
What a sweet story! I always loved to hear my friend Molly sing along with our Curves CD that had Amazing Grace on it. She would sing along while she was dusting and it would bring such a big smile to my face. I’m so sorry to hear of Hudson’s health issues of late. Will be praying for answers and a solution. Give him a big hug for me!
Auntie M says
Hudson brings glistening smiles, always. He’s such a little star. The joyous clapping at HIS Twinkle Twinkle song infected me, if not the whole audience. The “Cat’s Meow” was a riot!!
Laura Cook says
Adore this story & adore Hudson. He truly is a twinkling star reminding us all to not always try to reach for the stars, but to always ENJOY the magnificent view.
Love this Hudson story. So glad you took a “Chance” that night! What a great memory.
Carina Spring says
What a sweet story, it really made me smile. I read it last night right before going to sleep (though I couldn’t comment then because I was so tired), and I think it actually helped me sleep extra well because it was so heart-warming! I do hope Hudson feels better, soon, though, and will be thinking about him. Please keep us posted. I know some pretty strong viruses are going around this year; hopefully he will be back to 100% soon. It is so wonderful that he has a love for music, what a gift to carry through life. Thanks for sharing this story, Allie.
Karen @ On the Banks of Salt Creek says
Music is so therapeutic on so many different levels. So glad you went to the extra effort to figure out a way to take him with an escape plan if necessary.
I’m glad that Hudson has music.
Une histoire très belle et un petit garçon si mignon !
Hudson is one of the sweetest little angels on earth. Isn’t God so amazing that He allowed music to be such an integral part of human life. [It’s such a powerful art form!] I’m sure HE gets a great deal of joy watching Hudson become filled with bliss at the sound of ‘Twinkle Twinkle’.
Happy Monday, Allie 🙂
I used to do play therapy with a sweet little boy named Paul who had Down Syndrome. He was mostly non-verbal but LOVED music as well. I noticed he responded better to everything if we made a song about it. And songs we repeated the most he could sing along to in his way. But every kindergarten class is pretty music-heavy, with songs about cleaning up, getting along, and saying goodbye for the day. I think it’s so important to have music be a part of education, but especially early childhood education. There are all kinds of special kids with differing needs, and I think music speaks to many if not most of them. It can be quite unifying and I love hearing this story about your little star.
Hi Jay – thanks for your kind comment. I bet Paul is still loving music wherever he is. Sounds like you really enjoyed the time too. Music is such a gift. Have a wonderful weekend!
Clarence Ray says
What a lovely story! My son loves this twinkle twinkle little star