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Philosophy Prof's Ukulele Rendition of 'Hallelujah' to Crying Daughter an Internet Hit

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By Brendan O'Hallarn

After their first child was born, Old Dominion employees D.E. Wittkower and Lucinda Rush took a ukulele lesson together.

"We thought it would be an easy-to-learn, portable, convenient and inexpensive instrument, good for parents of a young child - something we could use to play songs to him, and eventually with him," said Wittkower, assistant professor of philosophy in ODU's College of Arts and Letters.

"We never did take another lesson, but I learned to play anyhow, and played regularly for my son and, eventually, for my daughter as well."

Those music skills have helped make Wittkower a viral Internet star.

A video he recorded in 2012, where he sings and plays the song "Hallelujah" to his daughter, Ada, who promptly falls asleep, gained initial attention last year after country music singer Martina McBride posted it on her Facebook page, and has gone viral again recently, leading to an Aug. 16 post on the Parents page of the national online news site The Huffington Post.

"If there is one thing parents everywhere understand, it's the multitude of trial-and-error methods one will use to try and soothe a crying baby," the website wrote.

"However, one unique method was captured on video that is sure to bring a smile to just about anyone's face. Watch in the clip above as D.E. Wittkower, a dad and assistant professor at Old Dominion University, uses a ukulele and the legendary song "Hallelujah" when his daughter, Ada, starts to fuss. It was shot in 2012, but as a bonus, you can see him revisit the song almost one year later below."

See the link to the story and the videos HERE.

Wittkower had posted the video on his own YouTube site, accumulating an impressive 250,000 views. He said the attention it has received has been great, but also sobering.

"It's been nice, of course, to receive such a positive response to this video, but it's also sad that this act, which is so normal and expected of female parents, seems to be viewed as so exceptional from a male one," Wittkower said.

"There are, of course other reasons why the video has been popular - no matter who's singing, it's funny and charming to watch her struggle a bit and then pass right out - but I doubt that the video would receive the attention it has were it my wife (an education reference librarian at ODU) rather than myself putting her to sleep."

Wittkower said it represents a harmful double standard - celebrating the modest achievements of dads with their children, while largely ignoring the daily hard work by moms.

"This is yet another reason why we still need feminism," he said.

Wittkower is a philosopher of technology and culture. The author of "The Philosopher's Book of Questions and Answers," published by Adams Media, he joined the ODU faculty in 2011. Wittkower is also the editor of five books with Open Court Publishing: "Ender's Game and Philosophy" (forthcoming, with co-editor Lucinda Rush), "Philip K. Dick and Philosophy," "Facebook and Philosophy," "Mr. Monk and Philosophy" and "IPod and Philosophy."