Ever been 9 months pregnant and asked to jump about like the Easter Bunny? Surely I’m not the only person. Okay, I confess that the music teacher allowed me to just do the bunny ear movements while everyone else had to jump, but for a moment there I thought he was going to make me join in. Such are the joys of music class.
Now that my youngest has moved into the 5 year old class of the preschool Early Childhood Music Program, I no longer face the scary prospect of having to walk like a lizard, fly like a pink fairy or skip and jump in hula hoop puddles. I kind of miss being part of the class, but only because watching a group of 4 year old boys try to skip is about the funniest thing you’ll ever see.
For the past 8 years at least one, and for a few years all three, of my children have attended the Early Childhood Music Program at the Newcastle Conservatorium. They started at the age of 2 and progressed through to the school-aged program. I can’t speak highly enough of the quality of the teachers and the amazing program that they put together.
This isn’t about teaching children to play an instrument, but rather about introducing them to the wonders of music – tempo, rhythm, pitch, volume and a wonderful range of instruments. The children get to play a variety of percussion instruments at different times during classes and each term a different family of orchestral instruments is demonstrated – strings, brass, woodwind and percussion.
Thanks to my many years of music class experience I now know what an ocarina is, can sing a variety of songs about fishing, falling out of boats, catching trains and being a pony and can wave a scarf in the air like nobody’s business. My kids seem to have enjoyed themselves too.
My oldest is now learning the saxophone and has progressed quickly in his lessons thanks to the grounding he received in his music classes. My daughter wants to start learning the piano and my youngest, never one to be outdone by anyone, thinks that the bassoon is where his talents lie. Fortunately he needs to be 12 before tackling this instrument, which gives us 8 years to save up to buy one – it might just be long enough.
If you want to help your children develop an appreciation for music and allow them to experience music in a variety of forms facilitated by gifted and dedicated teachers, I strongly recommend getting more information about the ECM classes at The Con.
The University of Newcastle School of Drama, Fine Art and Music (incorporating the Conservatorium)
Cnr Auckland & Gibson Sts, Newcastle
Ph: 02 4921 8900 (office hours: 9am – 5pm, Mon – Fri)