Do your children enjoy music? Mine thrive on it – and so, it seems, do the children whose parents buy our Singalong Songs, and the families who like to spend time in our Oxford studio. I love to watch little ones sway and groove to the music we play as they explore the studio and its treasures.

In 1950s Japan, the violinist Suzuki pioneered what he called the ‘mother tongue’ approach to music teaching. Suzuki’s premise was that everyone is innately musical. His method showed that if children as young as three years old are taught in a way that is immersive and repetitive, led by listening and supported in the home, they swiftly become able musicians.  In Georgia, North America, Ray Charles also believed that music is innate; he spoke of having been ‘born with the music inside him’.

As a writer and editor for young children, I am fascinated by music in language, and by language in music. This interplay informs the texts for many of our Fun First Steps books and for the music that accompanies the Singalong Songs. I have the highest respect for babies’ and toddlers’ innate ability to recognise and appreciate excellence in music and my experience is that babies don’t just want lullabies and nursery rhymes; they respond very enthusiastically to vigorous and rousing music of many genres (the success of  The Wigmore Hall’s concert series for babies, ‘For Crying Out Loud’,  is testament to babies’ appetite for the work of  great classical composers).

With the right support and encouragement, small children can achieve sublime results both as instrumentalists and singers. The English tradition of sacred music demonstrates this as well as any in the world. As we cross Twelfth Night and leave the mysteries of midwinter for the adventures of the year ahead, it is my privilege to share this lovely new recording of Poulenc’s ‘Magnum Mysterium’, sung by the choir of New College, Oxford, which counts Jacob Clayden, son of Barefoot’s UK Sales Manager Debbie, among its number. Magnificent work, Jacob and friends!


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Join the conversation! Add your comments below.