Bloomsbury is London’s most inspiring cultural quarter, and not just for the grown ups! Â In a series of blogs to celebrate this year’sÂ Bloomsbury Festival, I’m going to explore the music, art, dance & literature scene for under 5s.
Recently I have been lucky enough to be spending every Wednesday running ourÂ marketÂ atÂ Harriette’s music session. Â Her packed, exuberant sing-a-longs feature imaginative compositions of her own and interesting variations of classic rhymes. Â Her personality shines through as she inspires the children and adults in the room to find their musical confidence and get singing. Â There isÂ an opportunity for some free style percussion from the children, and a floaty, mellow interlude with the parachute and lots of bright coloured balls. Â Harriette is often accompanied by members of her band, which brings an extra musical dimension, and some straight men for her very funny, whimsical jokes. Sessions are on Wednesday and Thursday mornings at the Exmouth Market Centre, suggested donation Â£3.50
At a different end of the musical spectrum, but just as uplifting, is the groundbreakingÂ ‘Bach to Baby.’Â Â Led by the lovely, and accomplished, pianist Miaomiao Yu these concerts bring classical music to parents and babies, in settings where you won’t be shushed for unwrapping a snack, moving about, or having a bit of a cry if that’s what you need. Â I was delighted to see my 2 year old daughter totally mesmerised by the music at the first concert we went to a couple of years ago. Â She also enjoyed putting on her own “ballet” performance for the rest of the audience, joining in with the communal sing-a-long and even playing the grand piano once the main concert was over. Â Miaomiao performs all over London, including the Bloomsbury Festival this weekend. Â Best of all, she now has a regular slot at theÂ Foundling Museum. Â I would really recommend a visit. Â Sessions cost Â£10 (discounts for multiple bookings), babies and children are free.
Probably my daughter’s favourite musical experience so far has beenÂ De CapoÂ – based on the methods of Kodaly and Dalcroze, it helps children explore the ‘construction’ of music andÂ uses movement to aid development, concentration, spatial awareness and understanding of the abstract.Â Its very structured (but humorous) approach really appealed to my little girl. Â They run events from time to time in this area – keep a look out for them!
If you’d like to combine music with helping your child to learn another language, why not try out the Calthorpe Project’s new weeklyÂ Spanish through music, dancing and storytelling session. Â Sessions run on Friday afternoons and cost Â£3 per child (Â£2 for siblings).
All ourÂ local librariesÂ run friendly, free rhyme times where you and your baby or toddler can sing along to the ditties you probably knew when you were young. I am a bit out of date with them but 2 years ago the quality varied significantly between venues, so let me know where the best ones are at the moment.
What else have I forgotten? Let me know your favourite local musical hang outs for under 5s
Even if you don’t go to the organised music sessions, listening to music and singing to your baby (isn’t it great that they don’t care whether you sing in tune or not?!) has greatÂ benefits for their developmentÂ and is a lovely way to deepen your bond. Â My favourite rhyme when I was able to choose my daughter’s soundtrack without complaint, was ‘The Owl and The Pussy Cat’ What’s yours?