Singing it out
(reprinted from Brighton Insight City News - by Clare Davies)
A fresh musical take on children’s groups for Sussex kids
If you still think that taking your child to music class is all about singing along to I’m A Little Teapot to a slightly out-of-tune piano, then think again. At ‘Music For Aardvarks and Other Mammals’, based in Brighton and Hassocks, children aged from six months to five years get the opportunity to unleash their musical potential in a fun environment and parents get to actually enjoy themselves as well.
Music for Aardvarks was created by New Yorker and father of three David Weinstone, a punk musician who hit upon the idea after trying to enrol his son in various music classes and finding that “the stuff they were singing seemed sappy, too sugary, made it seem like the only things kids were interested in were farm animals, which didn’t seem too relevant to a kid living in Manhattan”. He began writing his own children’s songs and from there the classes evolved. “When other arts for kids have got so sophisticated,” he said, “children’s music has always stayed at this one level. I just wanted to pop something new, even shockingly new, in parents’ CD players.”
After resounding success among New York parents, classes are now available for the first time in the UK, run by Emily Hilson, an experienced and enthusiastic children’s music teacher, musician and mother of two. Centring on original music, from rock, pop and indie to folk and blues (with titles such as You’re Only Old Once and I Like Your Toys), in each session children get to sing, dance, do musical story-telling and join in instrumental jam sessions. Whether actively participating or simply listening and watching, they can “learn at their own pace and in ways that are right for them as individuals”.
Emily strongly encourages parents/caregivers to join in the classes, regardless of whether or not they feel confident of their musical ability, so that their child can see that creating music is more about willingness and enthusiasm than “performing” and “getting it right”. This makes classes fun and something that both children and their parents can look forward to.
As Brighton mother Sarah Pitt commented, “Emily brings enthusiasm and spirit to her classes that kids adore. Music for Aardvarks is currently the soundtrack to my children’s days. There is no chance Emily will do Miss Polly Had a Dolly – for which I, for one, am grateful!”