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By Amelia Tarallo
Hometown Weekly Staff
It isn’t often that children’s events at the library leave both kids and parents relaxed. Normally, they involve activities and loud, interactive songs that seem to make every kid practically burst with energy.
The session of the Baby and Toddler Jam at the Walpole Library on Friday, January 10, however, left everyone a little more zen. Amy Kaufman visited the library, ready to play some good old-fashioned tunes for the kids on her mountain dulcimer, a rather hypnotic string instrument.
Participants gradually entered, forming a circle. With a plethora of children’s books in the center of the circle, kids were entertained even if they didn’t focus on the music. The youngest of the children, some only months old, sat with their moms or in carriers. The easygoing nature of the jam session seemed to entertain every age group.
As some children entertained themselves by peeking through the pages of books and shuffling them amongst one another, others were completely entranced by the soothing sound of the dulcimer. Caleb, who was sitting on his mom’s lap, was hopping up and down as if he wanted to jump up and run up to the dulcimer himself.
Balancing the dulcimer on her knees, Amy played and sang a variety of traditional children’s songs, including the “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” “Baa Baa Black Sheep,” “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” and “Hickory Dickory Dock,” accompanied by the subtle strings of her instrument.
As Amy pulled out a copy of “Old MacDonald,” children flocked to her. Though most of the kids had spent a majority of the jam session ignoring the instrument, the sudden change of pace from music to book had seemingly attracted them to the instrument.
Kaufman has been entertaining kids with her dulcimer for seven years, though she’s just started performing at the Walpole Library. “It’s very soft. It’s easy for me, and it’s fine if [the kids] touch it,” said Amy when asked why she uses this particular instrument.
Add to that its folky, beautiful sound, which delighted the audience.
For parents, the jam was the perfect time to let their kids explore the room. They could wander, pick up books, meet new friends, or even nap, soothed by the soundtrack of a unique instrument. By the time they left, everyone was a bit more relaxed and ready to take on the rest of the day.