Despite being practically tone deaf and sounding like a Rod Stewart tribute act after a night on the fags, I seem to find myself singing from dusk until dawn nowadays, and my 11-month-old baby boy bloody loves it.
But my repertoire is limited, to say the least, and there’s only so much Pet Shop Boys and a-ha one toddler can take, so I decided to take him to some sort of singing, music group.
Now, to start off I thought I would try our local Childrens’ Centre. They do ‘Baby rhyme time’ on a Monday morning and I thought it would be a good way to get little H being a bit more sociable, as well as expanding my limited Incy Wincy vocab at the same time. Oh my goodness… never again!
After five minutes of the child holding the class addressing the babies as ‘Trildren’, and handing me a lyric book for Row Row Row Your Boat while telling me to learn the words for next week, I decide this was definitely not for me.
So next we tried Monkey Music. Monkey Music is a nationwide class that caters for kids from three months to four years. The class we went to was hosted by a trained musician (Royal College of Music, no less, daaaahling) and was very much focussed on bringing music into the lives of tots. There are touching, feeling, moving and seeing musical adventures throughout the half hour class which stimulate a little one’s senses to the max. But it all felt a little regimented. A bit school-like in its manner. Put it this way. I was scared if little H farted (which he does a lot) we’d be kicked out. He didn’t, but I kind of wished he had afterwards…
Much more to our taste was Hartbeeps. From the slightly chaotic tinkling as you first click on the website to the crazy personalised songs in the class, Hartbeeps is more for the funky mama and baby. The idea is that over the 45 minute class you travel through from the start of the day (Hello From Hartbeeps) to the sun coming up (You Are My Sunshine) past a weirdy beardy eating song (Mummy Feed Me Yum Yum Yum) right up to Twinkle Twinkle, accompanied by the group leader tapping a triangle. Yep, a triangle. I’ve not seen one of them since 1989.
After a term and a bit of Hartbeeps I have to admit that little Henry is no nearer to being Bruce Springsteen than a cauliflower. But he enjoys the songs, the familiarity, and the inevitable ridiculous props (duck hats, flower hairbands, frog finger puppets),that Mummy has to adorn, each week.
Many local Childrens’ Centres are run by normal people, not morons, maybe we just had a bad experience. My advice is try them all. Monkey Music and Hartbeeps offer a free trial class, and there are many more independent sessions of the same ilk, just see what your little one likes.
But don’t go with the expectation that you are breeding a budding Bowie. He (or she) is just as likely to like Steps as Strauss, regardless of what you try to teach them. However hard you try.