I have thought long and hard about how to phrase this post. One of the pitfalls of being less-than-anonymous in my blog is that my friends and my neighbours can probably make a fairly good guess about some of the places and people I might blog about. This is probably the most sensitive subject I have blogged about to date: baby music classes.
I’m not even joking.
When we lived in London, I used to take EldestGirl (who was back then, OnlyGirl) to a weekly music class that was run by our local council’s music service. I went along initially sceptical at how much a four-month old would be interested in singing, but was quickly won over by the fantastic professional who ran the group. She was not only a proper bone fide musician herself, but clearly a specialist in Early Years Music. At every stage she would explain to the parents why this song, or this repetition exercise, or this dance movement was good for the baby (or toddler as we stayed with the class for a long time), and spend time teaching the song before doing it with the class. When I went back to work part-time, I used to travel for 40 minutes to one of her further-away classes as this was the only one I could attend with my new hours. It was that good.
I have admittedly been lazier this time around in finding a class for YoungestGirl. Partly because, other than the music classes, most of them were a nice way to meet other parents, but were in no tangible way beneficial to the child, and partly because on the three days a week when I only have YoungestGirl at home, I tend to use the time to catch up on administrative tasks. But I was feeling guilty, and so the last few weeks I have been trying to find the perfect music class for YoungestGirl.
I have attended three different classes. Some identifying features have been changed to protect the innocents; whilst I may be cynical and a bit snarky, I do recognise that a lot of these people are giving up their own time and volunteering to make these classes run.
Class 1: Rhymey Timey at a Children’s Centre on the other side of town
Cons: Unhelpfully held bang in the middle of nap time. Mostly consisted of sitting in a circle whilst nursery rhymes were growled out about an octave too low for children to join in. Yes, I may be in the lower range of an Alto, but when “If you’re happy and you know it” hits a low F, the chances of your toddler being able to join in are slim. If for whatever reason, your child can indeed hit a low F, please take them to see a doctor to commence some sort of hormone treatment.
Bonus: Bubbles to blow at the end. Always popular.
Class 2: Happy Claps at a church in town
Pros: Incredibly cheap, included a snack for children, coffee for parents, amazing facilities, brilliant props (think bunny ears for the sleeping bunny song, glove puppets for Incy Wincy Spider), a PA system with Madonna-style headset to project the songs above the sound of lots of little children, big box of instruments, different equipment for every song,
Cons: This place seemed almost perfect, until the bubble machine came out. When the bubbles came out, so did the song about Jesus being the best friend I’ll ever have. To be honest, I don’t think I’ve even responded to his Facebook friend request. A few horrified glances around the room merely allowed me to glean that everyone else was singing along serenely with the beatific smile of the Saved.
Bonus: I may actually be working for the church now. Because parking was so dreadful, I ended up parking in a staff only spot.
Class 3: Loads o’Dough Re Mi at a local community centre
Pros: Props again were good. Lots of sensory play (though not strictly music related).
Cons: An expensive £5 per class, all songs were bespoke and prerecorded (and they didn’t forget to remind you you could buy the CD, and T-shirt), so if you hadn’t been to the class before, you couldn’t really join in. YoungestGirl was a bit too young for this class, which involved stomping around (she’s barely toddling) and hunting for gold coin treasure, which frankly was a choking hazard. Also, the course leader told off the parents for talking during quiet time (not guilty: I didn’t know anyone there), but believe me, there was nothing quiet about that time, and it wasn’t the parents making the noise.
Bonus: YoungestGirl was pushed over really hard on her face by a
little shit spirited child towards the end. We left before the stickers were handed out.
Is it me, or is there a significant gap in the market for high-quality music classes for cynical atheist parents who like swearing? Too niche?