Hello April: Time to Refill, Reflect, Renew, Rebuild

I love the quiet simplicity that signals the arrival of spring. A flower bud here, a blade of grass there, the warmer, brighter days…. Spring sneaks up on you, unnaounced, without fanfare but with a definiteness that is impossible to ignore.

After tumultous whirlwind that has characterised the last 12 months, it’s time to recharge the batteries, take stock and reposition for the future. April will be the time to sow the seeds and lay teh foundation for the next 12 months.

Praying for peace and grace for the journey.

Mother’s Coat of Many Colours

Coat of Many Colours by Dolly Parton

Many parts of the world are celebrating Mothering Sunday today and Church services will be dedicated to Mothers – both present and departed – for their unwavering selfless love.

Dolly Parton’s song, “Coat of Many Colours” tells of how her mother stitched together a coat for her from pieces of rags because they could not afford to buy one. And how the children at school made fun of this coat that had been so lovingly put together by her mum.

And I reflect on how timeless her message is. How mothers today continue to weave the best life they can for their children from the fragments of time, resources and skills that they have.

This is a universal struggle regardless of socio-economic status, race or background.

And so I want to encourage Mothers who are reading this today not to be discouraged. Your love is the greatest gift you can give your children.

The last verse of Dolly’s song is particularly powerful:

But they didn’t understand it and I tried to make them see
That one is only poor only if they choose to be
Now I know we had no money but I was rich as I could be
In my coat of many colours my mama made for me

Mothers, your patchwork coat, sewn in love is the greatest gift of all.

Happy Mother’s Day πŸ’œ.

Click here to watch Dolly perform the song.

Where are they now? Dolu Kazeem

Dolu ✌🏾

I first started teaching Dolu when he was aged four years old. At that age, Dolu was more interested in sitting under the piano stool than on it.

Maltesers to the rescue

We developed an understanding around Maltesers which helped sweeten Dolu’s lessons a great deal for us both!

“Hide and Seek”

One of our favourite games for learning keyboard geography was “hide and seek”. Lessons typically consisted of a series of short, focused activities, woven around actually playing the piano itself.

Dolu, the violinist

Sadly, I wasn’t able to continue with Dolu’s lessons and he subsequently developed an interest in the violin. So lovely to see him grown up and confident as he continues his pursuit of music.

Well done Dolu! So proud of you! πŸ‘πŸΎπŸ‘πŸΎπŸ‘πŸΎ

Where are they now? The Price Sisters

Lauren, Abigail and Charlotte Price

One of the first families who attended my early years music classes in the UK were the Price family.

Mum, Melanie, started coming with Lauren probably one to two years after I first opened a centre in their local area. Lauren happens to share my birthday and is therefore, naturally, my favourite 😁.

It was a pleasure to witness the family grow as Melanie fell pregnant with her subsequent two babies. She would bring them to classes, initially in their car seats, until they were old enough to take part themselves. Occasionally, their father, Jonathan, would attend classes if Melanie wasn’t available.

I remember Melanie being gently supportive of her daughters during the sessions. She modelled the behaviour she wanted them to emulate, actively joining in with the singing and the actions even when, especially as toddlers, the children had other ideas!

For three years from 2006, 2007 and 2008, I was invited to run music workshops for the girls birthday parties.

My favourite was the “Music Around the World” party which was held on the 14th of June 2008, for Lauren’s 5th birthday where we “visited” France, Australia and Hawaii among other nations.

I thoroughly enjoyed playing the didgeridoo, wearing Hawaiian leys and grass skirts and singing a song in a terrible French accent about making pastry.

I recently caught up with Melanie to find out how the girls are doing and this is what she said:

All three of my girls are still all very involved in music today.”

Lauren has achieved grade 5 piano and grade 6 singing and is due to take her grade 6 flute next term. She plays in school ensembles as well as in a flute group”.

Her real passion is singing and she is a member of a local Youth Choir and has been in church and school choirs since primary school”.

Charlotte is working on her grade 5 piano and has just passed her grade 6 violin. She is a member of our local  Youth Symphony Orchestra and also plays in a local ensemble as well as school ensembles”.

“Abigail is working on grade 3 piano and has just passed her grade 4 violin. She is part of an Intermediate orchestra and plays in school ensembles as well as a local music ensemble. Abi also sings in church and school choirs”.

I definitely credit their early years music and movement classes with giving them a love of music from an early age. They all loved the classes and have always enjoyed listening to and playing music.”

I have such fond memories of attending the baby music classes.”

Charlotte, Abigail and Lauren Price

I am so thrilled to learn that all three girls have continued to pursue music alongside their other passions – athletics and gymnastics being other areas in which they have excelled over the years.

The gentle, yet dogged commitment of Melanie and Jonathan to supporting the girls’ music education right from infancy has yielded great fruit of which they should be proud. It’s been a honour to play a small part in sparking the girls love for music.

I leave you with this recording of Lauren and members of her youth of choir giving a beautiful, virtual rendition of “Fix You” which I am sure you will agree is absolutely beautiful.

For those of you who despair whether your inattentive toddler will ever settle down long enough in baby music class to learn the finer points of rhythm and pitch, I say NEVER, EVER give up!

You have got to play the long game… Keep the prize in sight. Stay positive, keep engaging, keep persevering. They do eventually click. And the rewards, as I am sure the Price family can testify to, are immeasurable.

Don’t. Give. Up.

Where are they now? Pat Hood: Trainer, Mentor, Friend

Pat Hood

In the year 2000, I took my first tentative steps into Music Education when I bought into an Early Year’s Music franchise in the UK.

I thought it would be good to catch up with some of the friends and families I met along the way to see how they are getting on, and find out what role music plays in their lives today, if any.

First stop is Pat Hood. Pat was assigned to be my trainer and mentor when I became a franchisee of an Early Years music company – Jo Jingles.

The relationship was only meant to last for the first few months during which she would offer support and advice on everything from crafting musically sound programmes to giving advice on business matters such as marketing, sales and finance.

However, in true characteristic form, Pat was incredibly generous with her support and remained a friendly ear that I could bend throughout my time in the UK.

Today, Pat is a treasured friend and source of inspiration as she takes her music wherever she goes, touching lives and bringing hope and light.

Even though she is now in “retirement” Pat continues to play an active role in the music scene of her local community and my ambition today remains as it was all those years ago – to be like Pat when I grow up.

Pat Hood – Trainer, Mentor and Friend