Starting them young: Introducing Greenwich Music School at Charlton House

© Andreas Grieger

The Charlton Champion‘s LARA RUFFLE COLES reviews the baby music classes held at Charlton House

I feel very passionate about music. It brings me great joy, occasionally sadness, but it always provokes an emotional reaction. And as a member of two choirs, I benefit greatly from the social interaction and continuous learning that comes with rehearsing and performing.

Given recent news stories on the state of musical education in Britain, I feel very fortunate to have had an extremely dedicated music teacher at my state secondary school. From the age of eleven I sang in the school choir, had weekly music lessons, and completed my GCSE in music. At university I studied music and ran a rock music society, before joining a choir when I moved back to London. All this stemmed from that teacher, so thank you Mrs Pamela Wright!

For my son, I want to involve him in music from a young age, and with any luck he might want to learn an instrument or join a choir when he is old enough to chose for himself.

Until fairly recently there was a sign advertising Greenwich Music School outside Charlton House, and after a quick Google I was excited to see that they ran baby music classes for expectant parents and those with children.

I was patient enough to wait until my child was actually born before booking a class, but I started taking him to their Family Music class at seven weeks. His level of interaction was (ahem) fairly limited, but it was great to get out of the house, meet other parents and carers, and spend time in Charlton Park after class.

Family Music is for 0 to 4 years and focuses learning through singing. The teacher leads the class through songs and melodies that use different volumes, speeds, and low and high notes. We sing and play using actions, scarves and cuddly toys, have instrument play time with shakers, drums and bells, and the babies and toddlers move around the room to music.

As my son has grown he has been able to participate at a greater level and now the trouble is keeping him still for more than two minutes! Thankfully, the classes are relaxed and welcoming, and even if we don’t have his full attention, he is still in a musical environment – and it isn’t as if he can turn his ears off.

You can also attend Family Music or Songs and Sounds (9 months to 2 years) at Mycenae House. I chose Family Music over Songs and Sounds due to its location, and because I love seeing him interact and learn from children who are significantly older than him. Another plus is that I’ll still be able to take him to Family Music for a good while if I have a second child. Eventually, I want to take him to the older classes offered by the school, so I am crossing my fingers that he likes music!

Greenwich Music School’s co-director Bethan Scolding tells The Charlton Champion why she set up the Early Years Music programme:

We started GMS to share our passion for music with people of all ages through teaching and education of the highest quality. Bringing together our team of specialist tutors and developing our bespoke curriculum, from babies and toddlers to professional musicians, has been fantastic – and it’s been a great privilege to see our first students progress and flourish at all levels.

The school offers a variety of courses for children and adults, and financial support is available. Please contact the school for further details.

For classes not based in Charlton itself, there are a myriad of options to choose from – Google ‘music classes for babies’ at your peril – so I’ve highlighted just a few nearby:

  • Bach to Baby concerts are held regularly at Mycenae House. The concerts are great fun and the Christmas concert was particularly festive. But if a room of 40 to 50 children sounds terrifying, you might want to look elsewhere…

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