Last month I wrote about my experience of baby groups and how it was time to start trying some new groups with Imogen. The lovely Amy who runs Monkey Music classes in High Barnet, Whetstone and Mill Hill, invited us along to try out one of her Rock’n’Roll sessions aimed at babies from 3 months upwards. I hadn’t been to a full Monkey Music session before though Seren and I enjoyed party entertainment from a different Monkey Music teacher last Christmas.
Monkey Music was founded by Guildhall School of Music & Drama graduate Angie Coates back in 1993 when she couldn’t find the type of music group she wanted to take her own children to. It has grown up to become a much loved nationwide pre-school group, winning prestigious national awards such as the ‘Best Toddler Development Award’ in the What’s On For Little Ones Awards.
Did you know that the ear is the first organ to develop fully in the womb, enabling babies to take comfort in the sound of their mother’s voice at just 11 weeks gestation? Monkey Music’s Rock’n’Roll baby classes encourage the instinctive musicality that babies are born with. During each class the babies and adults are engaged through gentle songs and absorbing activities designed to aid development.
Amy enthusiastically welcomed Imogen and I to the class and we found a spot on the mat near the front. The class size is around 12 and the other mums were friendly and welcoming too. Many of the babies were wearing their Monkey Music t-shirts, which I’ve never seen at a baby group before. The class started with the Monkey Music ‘Hello’ song with us all singing hello to each of the babies and waving at them in turn. Even though Imogen was possibly the youngest baby there, she beamed at everyone when it was her turn. It’s lovely to see the babies socialising in this way and I could tell that the babies who attend the session regularly enjoyed waving at their friends as well as newcomers.
Amy guided the group through a range of energetic musical and sensory experiences; catchy songs, bubbles, scarves, percussion instruments and movement. Imogen adored cuddling up to one of the pink and yellow cuddly monkeys and also holding on to the little maraca she was given to shake. Well, she mainly liked eating that (Amy reassured me that the instruments are regularly cleaned!) but I could see how she would enjoy playing with the different instruments as her motor skills develop. Amy came round to each of the babies shaking a rainmaker which captivated Imogen, and reminded me to get out one that we have at home.
Towards the end of the session, Amy spread out a silky throw that the babies could lie on or hold on to. Imogen enjoyed another cuddle with the monkey and watched as the bubbles Amy blew fell towards her.
The sessions last for 30 minutes which is the perfect length of time for little ones. As I mentioned, I think Imogen was one of the youngest there but the class was energetic enough to hold her attention and I can only see her enjoying it even more when she can sit up unaided and have more fun with the instruments.
As well as Rock’n’Roll, Monkey Music offers sessions for toddlers from 12 months+ (Heigh-Ho), 2-3 year olds (Jiggety-Jig) and 3-4 year olds (Ding-Dong). The activities are tailored towards each specific age group and at Ding-Dong level, the children advance to read simple music notation.
Amy offers a free first session (I think most Monkey Music classes do) after which you enrol for a term of classes if you want to continue. Class costs vary, Amy’s classes work out at £7.50 per session plus an initial one-off fee of £17 to join the Little Monkey Club (your little monkey gets a t-shirt and CD as part of their Welcome Pack!).
Monkey Music runs sessions at over 200 venues across the country. Find one near you.
Imogen and I were invited along to a free session to review Monkey Music’s Rock’n’Roll class. All opinions are our own.