Some people are wine connoisseurs (I personally like ‘em sweet and cheap – like me.) while others know everything there is to know about designer handbags, but me, I like to think of myself as somewhat of an authority on baby classes. I bloody LOVE a good baby group, whether it’s messy play or Makaton, a majority of my hard-earned dollar goes on filling our week with fun things to do.
However, I’ve recently started a new group with Roo that is the highlight of my week, and I couldn’t not share it with you. Music In Unison.
This is a music group with a difference. We have attended plenty of music sessions where you sing a few nursery rhymes while dancing around with you baby, and they’re fun, but nothing I can’t do at home on my own. For me, for a class to have real value, I need to enjoy it, and I want to know how it is helping Ruben develop, or what it is teaching him, as well as it being fun.
Music In Unison is run by Tara and Karina who are both trained in music and education, and, rather importantly I think, parents themselves. Because it’s only a pair of mothers who could create classes like this – giving babies the chance to explore safely, while learning and staying engaged.
In every session, Karina plays the keyboard live, while Tara will play various percussion instruments along with the children, with a special section near the end where she plays the flute. There is something that makes such an amazing difference to the energy of a room when the music is live, and not just on speakers. The children are automatically drawn in, in a way that I’ve not seen anywhere else.
A lot of the songs and activities are created from scratch, and at the end of each week, you are sent an email with videos and information on what we did, and why, and how you can carry things on at home. This course really is massive value for money.
Activities are fast moving, so the babies don’t get bored, and the skills are built upon as we go along. For example, when working with the claves, there are a few different exercises that the babies can master. I’m not going to brag (I totes am), but Ruben seems to be really good at percussion and loves the claves so much that I had to buy him a pair!
Their tag line is “developing musical talent” and that is clear through every session. Each class is so personal that the teachers spend time interacting with the whole group and each baby individually. I really feel as though they care about Ruben and know what he likes and dislikes, his favourite instruments and how he likes to play. They then use this to work with him and develop week on week.
There is so much music and educational theory behind each activity too. The idea is that we are slowly teaching them the very basics of music theory so that it’s ingrained in them – that way, if they take up an instrument in a few years time, they already have that baseline of knowledge. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve learned loads myself over the past few weeks, from Fortissimo to Staccato, using balls, ribbons and of course, instruments.
That’s probably the best bit (at least for Roo!), because the babies get to be really hands on with instruments. At the end of the session, while the parents enjoy a cup of tea, there is a huge pile of instruments that they are encouraged to explore as they wish – all baby safe and clean. Ruben will always go for something he can bang together and I find myself absent-mindedly playing with them too.
I go to this class even though I’ve only had a few hours sleep the night before (a mix of a teething baby and finishing work at 1:30am). I go to this class even though Wednesday is a two-class day and it takes a lot of planning. But I go to this class because Tara and Karina are so friendly and welcoming. Because Ruben smiles the whole way through. Because I can clearly see what he is learning and how his motor skills are developing every week. Because I leave with a buzz that is hard to get from other classes.
I would HUGELY recommend Music In Unison to anyone with a baby (or toddler, they have other classes too!) who loves music. I could talk about this class for hours, but it’s 2am and I need to get to bed because I have to be up in a few hours for some music-making fun!