This is Flo, Oscar’s little sister. I don’t often write about Oscar’s siblings, because I guess the idea behind the blog is about him – a little boy who happens to have Down Syndrome. But today it’s Flo’s turn.
Flo is my third baby. So as I assume is the case in a lot of households, Flo gets carted around from pillar to post following her brothers to various appointments, playdates, preschool and school drop offs and true to form of most 3rd children, has just sort of slotted in. I’m ashamed to say in her little life so far, I haven’t really spent much time with her on her own, so when the opportunity to attend Monkey Music in Oxshott came up, I jumped at the chance to do something for her for a change.
Now forgive me if I sound slightly* annoying (*very), but being an ex performer myself, I suppose I expect a lot from a music class. I’m not saying I want a West end superstar up there but seriously, someone with a bit of charisma is a must surely? With the boys, i’ve done the rounds of what can only be described as mediocre music classes for kids. Props that have seen better days, dreary songs, where you slowly lose the will to live listening to them week after week, not to mention teachers that have clearly sang about the weather one too many times that term and appear a bit tired themselves. I’ve seen it all. So the first time I walked into a Monkey Music class taught by the lovely Emma, I knew we were on to a winner.
Emma is bright and engaging AND guess what? She can actually sing. Not just sing but she sings beautifully. The children are captivated by her from start to finish and the general feeling in the room is just lovely.
The class starts off by singing the Hello song and trying to find Monkey. The children think it’s hysterical that Emma hides Monkey behind her back and wanders around the room trying to find him.
The next song involves us all taking part in a series of actions – Peekaboo, Clapping, Touching your toes. The adults are encouraged to join in so the children can copy and model their behaviour.
A fab section of the class is the song all about vehicles – a train, a bus, a boat and an aeroplane. The children appearing to love the sound effects of all the different methods of transport. A big hit.
There is of course the standard musical instrument section. But they’re not just any old grotty shakers, that you might find at the bottom of a playgroup toy box. Oh no, these are all in prestine condition – shakers, bells… we even had drums with a beater this week. Fabulous.
My favourite part of the class, is one of the final sections – The leaves on the lake. A tribute to the autumnal weather we’ve been having lately, Emma asks the children to sit on the lake and then proceeds to throw leaves up into the air, which then fall onto them as she sings a song. A truly beautiful moment watching all the children trying to catch the leaves as they fall and one that’s so apparent that they all love.
No music class would be complete without bubbles for the children to pop but Monkey Music take it to another level. Bubbles, sensory lights and a different piece of music each week. Truly wonderful.
Back when Oscar was Flo’s age, I was really passionate about the fact that I wanted him to experience Music. We were so lucky that he was able to access music as part of his therapy from a young age. I know how powerful music can be in our own lives and in the lives of our children, but why is music so compelling and captivating? What exactly is it about music that makes it a great way to connect with and help children with special needs? It’s my belief, that music tends to be one of the top motivators for children with special needs. Imagine a child hitting a drum with a mallet. On the surface level most people would just see a child playing a drum, but there is so so much more going on. Hans Christian Anderson once said “Where words fail, music speaks”. For many children like Oscar, words fail them daily. Either they can’t get all their words out or can’t process the words coming in. I always think about how frustrating it must be to have limited speech skills and yet he gets bombarded by speech and words all day long. When we connect with each other and express ourselves through music, it feels more powerful and effective than spoken language. I can’t help but think that this type of therapy and interaction was a huge relief for him and that’s why I wanted Oscar to be able to engage in such a class.
We were lucky when Oscar was Flo’s age, that we were able to access music therapy but what does music mean to Flo? Whether a child has additional needs or not, the idea behind it is exactly the same. Confidence building, social skills, hand eye co-ordination, interaction and developing speech. Music really is an easy, fun and motivating way to connect and motivate children to develop new skills. Flo loves the interaction she gets with Emma. She loves that Mummy can join in too. And looking at the smile on her face, I’d say Monkey Music is a huge highlight of her week.
To find out more about Monkey Music Classes in your area – http://www.monkeymusic.co.uk/find-nearest-monkey-music-class.php?area=whole%20uk
To find out more about this particular class, please contact – http://www.monkeymusic.co.uk/area/Leatherhead-Dorking