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By Janet Collins - Mini Maestros Port Mlebourne, Docklands and Elwood Franchisee

Today we know more about our processes of learning and growing than ever before. We have data to prove what Music Educators have always known; that ‘Music is vital to life and an important point of connection with others.’ Through many generations, parents have used music to calm and soothe children from birth, to intimately express their love and joy, and to engage and interact. Building upon this is fundamental for a child’s social, emotional and cognitive growth processes.

Research has shown that celebrating music in a social context is core in creating a healthy community and is essential in the development of self and self-esteem within a community. Shared musical experiences enable people to explore, create and express. Music can define and build character, develop trust and build stronger connections between people. It invokes and gives us freedom to communicate deep thoughts and feelings to one another. As a result we become more aware of ourselves, about each other and about the communities we create.

Music definitely brings us closer together. We experience music at important events and festivals such as weddings, graduations, funerals, birthdays, sporting events and cultural events all around the world. Historically and culturally this has always been evident and a vitally important component holding the very fabric of a society together.

Inter-generational music is the international language that connects all of us and can actually transcend cultural and language barriers. It is a great leveller, bypassing prejudices and judgements. As educators, we can offer our children a quality music program in a loving, joyful, supportive and accepting environment. It not only offers a unique opportunity to do something special, constructive and memorably bonding with our precious children, but also connects us with different people from all walks of life. Inter-generational singing and movement has been found to be a powerful tool for the expansion of community through building strong relationships and empowering children.. There is such a rich heritage that can be passed down generationally shaping and defining who we are in the truest sense of the word. What a gift!

Here are what some experts say:

Sharing, confidence, courage - “Through music, children take an inner experience and move it into a shared creative experience. Group music-making releases energy which can be channelled in creative, productive directions. Children learn about themselves and others by playing music together and by listening to their peers and other adults — tapping into hidden courage that can be played out by singing together or discovering the inner resources to listen quietly to another child's playing."

Judi Bosco - Music Therapist

Resiliency - “to bounce back after a disturbing event — is not something we are born with; it must be learned and sometimes that takes many years. There is no vehicle more joyful and playful for providing such training than early childhood music and movement particularly in a corporate setting."

Dee Joy Coulter Neuroscience Educator Ed.D

Sensitive, teachable, skilful- "If a child hears good music from the day of his or her birth and learns to play it himself or herself, he or she develops sensitivity, discipline and endurance. He or she builds a beautiful heart."

Shinichi Suzuki, founder of the Suzuki method

Awareness, focus, considerate-“The child who has listened musically, also listens to everything else."

Source Unknown

As a Music Educator I have experienced firsthand the incredible impact and influence we individually and corporately have as guardians of our children. It is such a privilege but at times a challenging responsibility in creating a valuable, safe, playful and foundational learning environment. The results have been remarkable to say the least. I have seen personally how our unique, structured music classes can actually help to establish a strong sense of community. Music Teachers not only build loving relationships with the students but they also have a sincere interest in the carers (mothers, fathers, grandparents, nannies, etc) themselves who bring them to class. This has a profound effect in so many ways.

I have witnessed over and over again through the years, the beauty and treasured moments of watching carers bonding not only with their little ones, but also interacting with other carers; jointly celebrating another child’s developmental milestones. The children then become aware of other adults who genuinely display care and concern for them. On top of that, carers from diverse backgrounds will often connect after class over coffee or at the park, which in turn builds a community of love and trust.

As an educator, watching children interact through their shared music making experiences has been personally rewarding and moving. I have seen the children learn co-operation, sharing, structure, planning, compromise, patience, creativity, self -expression, being vulnerable and courageous, developing strong concentration and focusing skills, working as a team while they each contribute in their own unique way to the music and each other. These qualities become embedded and invaluable as they prepare for school, face new challenges, and begin to form new friendships.

Here is just a snippet of the countless feedback we have received, on why families attend Mini Maestros classes;

“Being new to the area these classes have been a point of connection for me and my child. Coupled that my child absolutely loves the classes (so do I and all the other mums). We often go out for a coffee afterwards and the children sometimes play out and sing the songs they learnt in class together. Quite extraordinary”

“Coming to Mini Maestros classes is the only place I am allowed to sing!! I feel accepted here with my child. All the mums are so kind. No one is being critiqued. It’s so relaxing and safe and quite liberating.”

I come from a background where my mother and father did not play with me or sing to me. I have always felt like something is missing in my life. I believe it has effected how I interact with others and more importantly now with my newborn son. I still find it difficult to play and sing with him, but coming each week to Mini Maestros I am now laughing and having lots of fun. I would miss these classes if they were not around.”

“Attending Mini Maestros classes is definitely the highlight of our week. It’s 30minutes of uninterrupted quality time with my child. I really value the cleverly written and structured program. I have increased my repertoire of songs and rhymes and I know this is helping me to connect more deeply with my child and assisting her language and social skills.”

“I feel so free to be myself here with my child. I never thought I had a voice till I came to classes.”

“I can’t believe it. Through regular attendance my child has become more expressive and confident. It’s such a delight to see her grow and develop in this way. She dances and sings at home often”.

“My son attends soccer ball classes and I observed how he was the only child who packed up after he completed each activity without me saying a word. Thank you Mini Maestros.”

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