I have no doubt that if you have taken the time to click through to read this that you are either already totally a fan of Jellybeans Music classes or you are more than a little curious about why grown ups willingly agree to sit on the floor (chairs are available if floor sitting is hard) and sing nursery rhymes tunelessly together with other adults whilst your baby either sleeps or your toddler explores their surroundings. Go on, admit it, if you’ve never been to a music class, I bet you have lots of opinions about ‘what we do’, so, are you ready to go music class myth busting?
Music classes only sing songs which everyone knows so they’re not worth the money
Ok, maybe some music classes only sing songs which you already know but that is most certainly not the case in my Jellybeans Music classes. Yes, hands up, we do sing ‘The Wheels on the Bus’ and ‘Twinkle Twinkle’ – the children would be so sad if we didn’t - but there currently another 156 songs in the repertoire that we sing, the majority of which are Jellybeans Music originals. Yes, many may use melodies you are familiar with but hand on heart, I know that you will never ever have sung ‘Clap your hands to the music beat’ or ‘The Sneezing Song’ before as they were written and recorded just for my classes. Did you know that we also use music from all over the globe? From South America to Australia and everywhere in between. We’ve even been known to indulge in a bit of punk and glam rock, bet you didn’t expect that. Our music is feisty, it’s gutsy, it’s got attitude and style and plinky plonky sounds are just not Jellybeans
So that’s the music covered, singing songs is just the beginning of the magic of a Jellybeans Music class. As an early years Montessori teacher, I make sure that every single activity we do has a solid basis in childhood development. I spend a lot of time increasing my knowledge and keeping up to date with latest research, especially on infant brain development, so yes, for example, the children are chasing bubbles but they are also working on visual tracking, language development, breath control, emotional impulses, muscle coordination to name but a few as well. All my classes support the Early Years Foundation Curriculum and prepare the child for school. Bet Youtube doesn’t do that!
Music class leaders just switch on the Ipod and pretend to sing along while being extra smiley
Hmm, not me. Yes, I smile a lot – I love leading my classes and when you’re singing all day long and moving around your body is constantly releasing the feel good endorphin serotonin, so yes, life feels pretty epic, it’s a physical truth. Yes, I use an Ipod and yes, I do sing with it but I am a classically trained vocalist so pretty much always in tune and a lot of each class playlist that I create is either instrumental backing tracks or music to jam away with instruments to. Yes, you’ll hear Kevin the male vocalist as well as Fiona and Rowena, but that’s essentially it. I intentionally use those voices to relax people into singing at the beginning of each class then slowly but surely the backing vocalists disappear as the voices of the class both adult and child emerge. Did you know that it is in early years that your child will discover their voice? Their musicality? They need to be able to hear their own voice and those of others around them which is why, yes, we do also sing totally unaccompanied and with just me playing either the guitar or ukulele.
I can’t sing and everyone will know and stare at me
I don’t think I’ll ever be able to say enough times, that there are very few people in the world who can’t sing – and to be honest most that can’t think they can – but hand on heart no one is ever made to sing or expected to sing in class if they feel uncomfortable. Most people in class will sing and will sing loudly, quietly, fast, slow, have a whale of a time and feel much better afterwards. I always say you have the most beautiful voice as far as your child is concerned, it’s the voice they want to hear and the voice they are tuning into so give it a go when you are ready. The rest of the class will all have insecure moments vocally but are so focused on themselves and their child, they’ll never be listening out for you
There are a few instruments that the children aimlessly hit and squabble over, some of which are grubby or broken
Let’s be clear here, I hate grubby instruments and spend time every single day of my working life checking for breakages, cleaning and sterilising. Babies and children mouth everything so I intentionally only use high quality, expensive, tuned, percussion instruments which are incredibly sturdy. There are no wooden instruments with splinters and paint chipping in my world. There are over 200 instruments in the Jellybeans kit and Babybeans have their own instruments (another 100) and it is very rare that children are unable to share – sometimes they need a little guidance – and Music Jam time is huge fun and very noisy. We all play the instruments, we all drum, we all shake, we build towers, we roll rainmakers, we spin. We play while absorbing the different rhythms that are guiding us and yes, at the end, the children tidy every single instrument away within 126 seconds.
My baby will either just sleep or cry all the way through
Yes, I won’t pretend, very small babies may well sleep through their very first few Babybeans classes. Equally babies have ‘off’ days just like us when it seems all they do is cry. But that really doesn’t matter. What is important is that you are out of the house, meeting people who are going through the same life experience and having time out of the ‘day to day’ slog of parenting. By coming into class, you will be learning the songs you can use the rest of the week making playing with your baby, helping them to relax and sleep better using your new musical knowledge. Before you know it, baby dancing and baby swinging will be essential tools in your parenting armour as will the download of songs and rhymes which accompanies every Babybeans term.
My child won’t sit still unlike all the others’ so it will be embarrassing
In early years, how the child reacts and explores music is very physical, an almost unconscious response. It is a time of intense physical development as well as social and emotional.
I chose all my halls with great care, thinking ‘how would a newly walking child try and escape, what can they climb’. So, you can relax in the knowledge that my halls are pretty much like Fort Knox although you do need to keep a watchful eye obviously! It really doesn’t bother me at all if they wander around the room, they are still listening to the sounds and rhythms, they are still taking part, they just want to be up and moving and I respect that. There is a lot of movement within all the songs we sing, we jump, we roll, we wriggle, we clap, we fly to name but a few activities and it is my job to adapt any ‘plan’ to what is happening in the room so some weeks and worry about it, not yours
No one will talk to me – I’m not that sort of person
So who do you think goes to music classes? I just know that in my classes everyone is welcome and valued. Male, female, mums, dads, grannies, granddads, aunties, uncles, childminders, single parents, divorced parents, happily married parents, cohabiting parents, single sex parents, breastfeeding mums, bottle feeding mums, cloth nappy users, disposable nappy users, shall I go on?
Jellybeans Music classes are for everyone who wants to share time with their child having huge amounts of fun safe in the knowledge that they are supported in their parenting lives and the children developmental needs are being addressed and met.
I still don’t know if it’s right for me
Only one way to find out, book a trial class. I don’t offer free trials at Jellybeans Music because I believe that what I do is worth every single penny. I am a very experienced and trained professional musician and early years teacher.
But just so you know, Jellybeans Music classes cost £5 a class, payable in advance with discounts for siblings and no charge at all for under 1s if they are accompanying their big brother or sister into class.
So what are you waiting for? It’s almost September, classes are filling rapidly, why not book today and find out for yourself whether Jellybeans Music classes are for you