A Mini Maestros Moment
By Amanda Siva, Daughter of Mini Maestros Founder Jenny Fogarty
Most people crave a sense of community. It is sometimes elusive and unless you search for it, get out of your comfort zone and try new things; it can be hard to find. It was a sense of community that led my Mum (Jenny Fogarty) to start Mini Maestros 30 years ago, and the same desire to feel part of the wider community that led me to starting Mini Maestros classes this year with Janet in Port Melbourne.
Mini Maestros started when my mum had my brother (accidentally), seven years after I was born. She had no family in Melbourne, her two other children had started school already and suddenly, she found herself on maternity leave - again! She was a little lost, but decided to put her musicality to good use and started giving free pre-school music lessons at the local community centre in Vermont South. I remember her telling me in later years that her time in Vermont South in the early 1980’s, when it was a brand new suburb with very few neighbours, was very difficult. Mum and Dad had recently moved from Adelaide to Melbourne for Dad’s work. Here she was in the middle of the ‘burbs’ with two kids under three years of age, with no car, and vacant blocks of land on either side of her house. It was very isolating so by the time my brother came along I think she really wanted to get out into the community and do something. The music classes were a great success. By the time my brother was ready to start school, she was begged to continue them, people were willing to pay to come to her classes!
I have spent one term in Janet’s classes so far. It has reminded me of the importance of not only music in my children's development, but also the role that classes like this play in bringing people together. We have just returned to Melbourne after living in Darwin for four years. In that time I have been married and given birth to twins. Needless to say I have returned to Melbourne a very different person to who I was when I left! I don’t have a mothers' group down here, my friends have children of different ages and they live in different suburbs. Originally I joined Mini Maestros to experience what my Mum had created, but it has turned out to be so much more than that. When I attend Janet’s classes I not only feel connected to my Mum, but I also feel a sense of connection to my community. Now when I walk down Bay Street I don’t just see faces, I see Phoebe’s Mum and Bonnie’s Grandpa. At South Melbourne Market I can chat to Alessandro’s Mum and wave hello to Lily-Rose’s carer. I can chat to other parents before and after the classes and share stories or seek advice. It is the highlight of my week and I feel rewarded in so many ways.
I recently attended the Mini Maestros end of year concert and it was like being in a time warp. Janet’s husband was collecting tickets, just like my dad used to. Her daughters and nieces were helping out on stage, just like my sister and I used to. There was even a 'Mrs Bumblebee' which was a role my brother used to play. I remember all of the hard work my family would put into supporting my Mum and her business and I don’t think as a teenager I ever fully appreciated the joy that it brings to families. I am so proud to be part of Mini Maestros in my local community. Music has always been a part of my life thanks to my Mum and I am so pleased that it is now part of so many other children’s lives. My Mum would be so proud.
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