There are many structured music courses available for under 5s in London. I start teaching youngsters the piano from age 3 but I find that combining this with a weekly general musicianship class is ideal. I have listed some of the courses that I consider the best for pre-school children. These are structured music classes with emphasis on learning music theory through song and play. These are not like the many toddler classes that just focus on singing the same songs each week with the aid of puppets and bubbles but will equip your child with valuable skills for when they start learning an instrument.
Trinity Teenies at Trinity Laban Conservatoire
Trinity Teenies takes place at Junior Trinity which is a Saturday School for 3-19 year olds. It is situated in the beautiful Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. Trinity Teenies is part of the String Time programme is for children aged 3 – 11 years. It encourages young players on their musical journey in ensemble and creative work. String Time is a great opportunity for young players to make music and receive professional coaching in a relaxed yet disciplined environment.
The course is directed by Caroline Lumsden, an experienced violinist and teacher, who has developed a creative approach to music education that enables children to discover for themselves whilst gaining a thorough all round musical understanding.
The String Time Programme is divided into a number of groups. The progressive curriculum is designed to gradually develop student’s musical skills from the very first stages of starting to learn a string instrument onwards. This is delivered through a mixture of ensemble and technique sessions combined with creative musicianship and theory training.
The first stage of the String Time program is called Trinity Teenies and is for 3 – 5 year olds. Trinity Teenies is a 45 minute weekly musicianship class that takes place on Fridays at either 14.15 or 16.15. Current prices for 2011 are £66 per term.
Students begin learning an instrument (violin or cello) in the String Starters group once they are aged 5+. They play in ensembles and also have Dalcroze lessons which offer a unique approach to music education and performance, specifically for young children. With Dalcroze, virtually every musical concept is taught and experienced through movement of all parts of the body.
Trinity Teenies open days take place on Friday 25 February, 2011. Call 0208 305 4326 to book a place.
Kindergarten at Junior Guildhall
Junior Guildhall is a specialist Saturday School in Barbican offering advanced training to young people between the ages of 4 and 18.
The Kindergarten course sits under the umbrella of the String Training Programme and offers class work in Kodály and Eurhythmics for children in Reception Year and Year 1 (Reception Year children are those who have their fifth birthday on or between 1 September and 31 August and Year 1 are those who have their sixth birthday on or between these dates). The classes take place in the afternoon and are 30 minutes in length. Children attend for 30 weeks over the academic year in line with the String Training Programme.
Entry onto the course is usually in Reception Year. There is no audition procedure and no prior musical training is neessary. However there is often a waiting list as the course is frequently oversubscribed.
Parents will need to make a separate application if they wish their child to progress to the String Training Programme (Year 2). There is no automatic progression onto the Programme.
The course is £450 per year and takes place on Saturday mornings. The waiting list for this course can be quite long, so do sign your child up before they are 1 for the best chance of getting a place on the course(!)
Colourstrings was the first course to offer music education from a very young age in the UK and is the only approach that can be used all the way up to conservatoire level.
It is an extension of the Kodály philosophy: everything starts with singing to develop inner hearing. Central to the approach is the role of play and imagination – often the value of play can be overlooked in the rush to get on with the ‘real’ lesson.
Classes start at 18 months and involve most of the senses, taking the children on a musical journey. The children relish having fun, singing, clapping, marching, and socialising, without realising that the songs used in the kindergarten classes have been carefully composed to explore the different musical concepts – rhythm, pitch, melody, dynamics, tempo, character, form and style – in an enjoyable and stimulating but structured way.
All of this ultimately leads to an intrinsic understanding and love of music. By the age of 5 or 6, children are learning to sight sing, along with the basics of reading and writing stick notation. It is at this stage that they can choose an instrument to learn.
Instead of this being a daunting prospect, children are reassured to find the same melodies that they are familiar with reappearing in their instrumental lessons. This gives them a vital confidence and feeling of success from the very first time they pick up an instrument.
Unfortunately, there are no Colourstrings classes within easy reach of East Dulwich. If you drive, then there are some excellent classes run by Iva Butler in Shooters Hill on Tuesdays and Wednesdays during term time only
Little Songbirds – Tuesday mornings
9.50 – 10.35 Family class
10.50 – 11.35 2-3 years (born 1/9/2007 – 31/8/2008)
Colourstrings Kindergarten – Wednesday afternoons
1.30 – 2.15 3-4 years (born 1/9/2006 – 31/8/2007)
Inroductory offer: 3 weeks for only £10.
Bring a friend and receive 1 class free.
Classes cost £5.50 each and are payable per half term in advance
Other classes a bit further afield:
Watford School of Music, Hertfordshire Music Service
Description: Classes for 5 year olds (Mon), Babies & Toddlers (Tues) and 6 year olds (Wed).
Contact: Watford School of Music (T: 01923 225531) for further details
St Albans Music School, Hertfordshire Music Service
Description: Classes for children from 3 – 7 years old (alternating Saturdays)
Contact: St Albans Music School (T: 01727 860941) for further details