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Speech Development - Stories from Parents by Annette L. Graham

My Son Coulton started Mini Maestros with Georgie at the Kew Library when he was two and progressed right through the programs doing his final year of instrumental work. From a very young age (about 3) Coulton said he wanted to learn the violin. We did not have a violin but had a piano, clarinet, guitars and various recorders. So we tried hard to convince him to take up an instrument we already had, but he was adamant he wanted to play the violin. He was told he was not allowed to start learning the violin until he was eight. At eight he was still pestering us to let him learn. He has just played in his second violin concert and, while he still has a lot of learning to go and long journey ahead of him if he is to be able to play well, I’m very proud of him as he can now get a recognizable tune out of the violin.

Coulton was born with a cleft lip and pallet that basically means the front of his mouth and the inside of his pallet were not joined up properly prior to his birth. For these kids the air flows differently through their mouths. This means that speaking clearly is often very difficult for them. Coulton, like most kids with this condition, had to work with a speech therapist from a young age - he did not enjoy this at all. In contrast he always loved the Mini Maestros program. The only request he had for his three year old birthday party was that everyone join in the Fuzzy the Clown dance.

I believe Mini Maestros was just as beneficial for his speech as speech therapy. The continual repetition of the songs, the play-based approach to learning and the general atmosphere of encouragement along with Georgie’s 'Coulton-specific' approach (which was to encourage my high energy boy to move while he was learning anything) meant he felt perfectly at home doing his music and it never felt like work for him. By singing the Mini Maestros songs he was continually working on his language and his pronunciation throughout this process. By the time he commenced school Coulton was able to stop speech therapy. There seems to have been no residual effects on his language development. He now speaks clearly, confidently, and well.

I would encourage other young kids with various speech difficulties to consider doing the Mini Maestros program.

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