Perfect Pitch?

June was at a diner yesterday with my mom. It is not a particularly large restaurant, but it is popular and was full. June was talking as she does, pointing at the photographs of animals and naming them and making their sounds. She was also singing with her Nana. A woman in the restaurant stood up and asked the whole place, "Who is that child with the perfect pitch?" I guess June was not the only child in the restaurant, but she is the one the lady sought. Apparently this woman (I wish I knew her name) teaches music and plays a number of musical instruments. She has children and she said they never had perfect pitch. She went on and on marveling over June and her abilities and told my mom we had to nurture this ability. She couldn't believe how young June was. She predicted the way June doesn't like noisy things like the dishwasher, washing machine, lawnmowers. In fact, June always points at them and declares Noisy! She said that children with perfect pitch dislike any sounds that are not melodic. The woman was fairly certain June could be a musical genius and that we had to keep providing her with appropriate stimulus.

Does anyone know anything about nurturing musical ability? Is there anything we should do? (Maybe she should go visit Rene some more.) In honor of it all, here is an 8-second clip of Junie singing. The camera battery kept dying as I tried to film it, which is why it cuts off so abruptly.

Another reason that I find this interesting is that my paternal grandfather, John Humphrey, was an inventor. One of his inventions (from the 1960s or so) was a voice mirror which was designed to teach children perfect pitch. I've looked all over the internet and cannot find it, but if I can I will look through some of my old photographs for a picture of my grandfather with his inventions. You know the number font on all credit cards? My grandfather designed that. The design was to enable clearly seeing the numbers of the cards after being transferred through carbon paper. As far as I understand, he invented the original credit card machine, the old fashioned one you sometimes still see today. I want to investigate it further because I know he was part of a design team and I wonder what individual elements he created, such as the font. My dad tells me that when my grandfather died he was working on the design of ATM machines. I wish I had a chance to know him better. He died when I was thirteen years old.


  1. Very fascinating. It also seems stressful that you might worry you're not doing enough to nurture your child's unknown genius. That kind of stuff stresses me, anyway. As a side note, back to the post where you described June saying you're pretty? Treasure that, because Teagan likes to pat my belly and say "fat belly." Yeah, that's an uplifting moment.

  2. Ah well, it doesn't stress me out. I figure it is just about playing music for her, but some specific tips would be good. And really, any excuse to bring music into our lives is enjoyable. I'm not going to become one of those parents who tries to get their child to learn everything all at once and way too fast.

    I can totally see June playing with my belly and calling it fat too. She already loves to play with it, she just hasn't described it yet!

  3. Hey there, Girl. LOVE the video! My next-door neighbors Michael and Melody (the ones who are expecting a little girl of their own) are both music teachers. We'll invite them over so you can meet them when you return.

    About the belly fat -- I take the cake on this one (okay, more like ATE the cake). Marshall will root around my belly like a pig looking for truffles in search of a nipple to latch onto to nurse. Now THAT's a belly (God, did I really just admit this to the world????).

    Can't wait to see you.

  4. go, junie, go! of course she has superpowers! what a cool experience in the restaurant! i loved reading about your grandfather, too. a fascinating character--do you ever write about him? how he would have loved to hear little junie sing. i'm looking forward to bumping the junie jams as soon as i'm out of the u of a library!

  5. My oldest is a music major, but she does NOT have perfect pitch--she works hard and loves it, though.

    She has friends like June, I'd guess, and they take all these sight reading/singing classes and SAIL through them.

    I don't know if they did anything really special at June's age, though.

    You have a piano? A little karioke set (did I spell that right?)?

    Of course you'll have to play her all the classics.....

  6. Wow! That's kind of cool. Worth following up on, I'd say. Let us know what happens! In the meantime, I'd keep up with Twinkle, Twinkle, maybe move on to more challenging tunes like Row, Row, Row or Itsy Bitsy. Go June!

  7. I have no advice to offer on the musical front, but it's fascinating to hear about. I hate the sound of the dishwasher, too, but I can't carry a tune for the life of me. Ha, ha.

  8. How coolis that! Even in the little I saw of her she was singing it up!


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