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Information about the benefits of good music heard throughout pregnancy, early life and into adulthood.

Pointers to fine participatory music programmes for young people.



Click here to download a PDF version of this article

As a new parent you’ll no doubt be already aware of the huge variety of activities and groups available for you to take part in with your baby. From yoga and swimming to massage and messy play, there’s something to suit every budget and parenting style. Music classes for very young children are no exception, and are becoming increasingly popular. They are a great way to introduce your child to musical activities, with all the associated benefits, in a fun and pressure-free environment. Here we provide a summary of some of the classes available in the UK and what you can expect from them.

The kind of music classes and groups that are available vary, from large companies running groups in centres across the country to more localised independent groups. Some classes will require you to commit for a certain number of sessions and ask for a membership fee or weekly payment, while others are run by government-funded children’s centres or libraries and don’t make a charge, so you can just pop in if it’s convenient for you and fits in with your baby’s routine.

Whatever style of music class you choose, the primary emphasis for pre-school age children should be about fun and gaining confidence, with no pressure to be “good” at anything in particular, just to enjoy taking part. Joining in with singing and clapping games will help your child’s developing vocabulary and social skills, along with musical skills like a sense of pitch and rhythm. A lot of the content of classes for this age you will be able to learn yourself and repeat with your child at home too, although the social aspect of going to a group is also important for young children. The value in taking your child, however young, to an organised music class is not only in what they will learn by attending, but also in their developing an enjoyment and appreciation of music which will last their whole lifetime. Engagement in musical activities can help children in many areas of their development: language and vocabulary; emotional intellegence and interaction; fine motor skills and coordination, not to mention the musical knowledge and abilities they will undoubtedly learn along the way.

Jo Jingles

There are Jo Jingles Classes in over 700 centres throughout the UK and Ireland. Jo Jingles classes are carefully structured and are designed for specific age groups: 3 months—walking, walking—2 years, Over 2s, 3—5 years, 5—7 years and Weekend/Mixed age group sessions.

Classes run weekly and each week introduces fun educational themes, i.e. colours, shapes, numbers, animals, using well-known nursery rhymes and action songs. Children get to have “hands-on” experience with at least two percussion instruments each week, and they get to join in with ‘little Jo’ who is always ready with the actions. He also knows over 1000 songs, some familiar and others that are unique to Jo Jingles.

Every class follows a similar format as children like the familiarity and routine. Classes start with ‘Circle Time’, sitting on the floor and usually welcome everybody with the “Good Morning” or “Welcome” song. As children progress through the age groups, they are challenged to be more independent and use greater levels of skill when doing the activities.

Musical Steps

Musical Steps music and movement classes are for children from 4 months to 5 years of age. The organisers realise that listening to music is good, but that participating in music-making activities is even better. Musical Steps say that they offer a ‘first class introduction to music’ which stands out from the others because their classes are based on a solid foundation of first-class music teaching, including the world-renowned Kodaly, Dalcroze and Suzuki methods.

A typical class includes innovative musical games, singing: traditional songs and original Musical Steps songs, percussion playing, movement and listening activities. All of these activities are age-appropriate, educational, and most of all—fun! Pre-school children are also introduced to simple composition and musical notation.

Musical Bumps

Musical Bumps classes are based on the Hungarian (Kodaly) methodology of music education, with a unique repertoire including lots of traditional favourites with less well-known songs from around the world. This is supplemented with specially commissioned original material. Carefully chosen repertoire enables musical skills and concepts to be easily learnt and understood.

At Musical Bumps, babies and children also develop and practise non-musical skills including turn-taking, sharing, listening and joining in. They grow in confidence and their language development is often above average. The activities support all areas of the Early Years Foundation Stage.

Learning that’s fun is learning that’s remembered. Musical Bumps follows the Early Years Foundation Stage principle of learning through play; games and puppets are key to our success. Although structured, the classes are relaxed and allow time for socialising and free play. Classes are carefully tailored to each stage of development from birth to five years. Children move through the groups according to their individual needs—the suggested age-ranges are always flexible.

Caterpillar Music

Caterpillar Music offers weekly music classes with “exciting themes, colourful instruments and amazing puppets.” Two classes are available, Caterpillars (0—36 months) and Butterflies (18 months—4 years). Because of the wide age ranges, children are encouraged to develop skills like standing, walking and dancing by watching and copying others. The classes are very relaxed and children can choose to join in as much as they want to learning and developing at their own pace.

Music Bugs

Music Bugs provide fun and stimulating music and singing classes for babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers. The aim is not to teach music, but to allow and encourage young children to develop, grow and explore the world around them through music and song.

Participation in music and singing classes is a great way for children to socialise and develop in a creative and stimulating environment. In addition, research has shown that singing songs and rhymes on a regular basis helps to widen a child’s vocabulary and listening skills which are an essential part of learning to read, write and communicate.

During a typical forty minute class, children sing nursery rhymes, counting songs, knee-bouncers, action songs and finger-play rhymes. A wide range of props (pom-poms, puppets, scarves, bubbles, percussion instruments, hobby-horses and teddies) help to engage children’s attention and bring the sessions to life.

Four age-group options are available: Baby Bugs (newborn—12 months), Mini Bugs (6—24 months), Jumping Bugs (18 months—4 years) and Family Bugs (newborn—4 years).

Monkey Music

The content of Monkey Music classes has been developed and tested over time, with a progressive curriculum. The classes are age-specific so that children can learn and thrive with friends of a similar age. Everyone is encouraged to reach their full potential in well-managed class sizes, which are highly interative and rewarding for both children and their carers.

For babies from 3 months, ‘rock n roll’ classes pave the way for a child’s future emotional and intellectual development with a stimulating musical environment, incorporating gentle songs and fascinating sounds with absorbing activities and precious shared moments. For toddlers from 12 months, ‘heigh-ho’ classes give them the chance to join The Monkey Music Band, toddlers’ favourite place to be: they are up on their feet exploring their own space, they learn to respond to the music that they hear and they benefit from lots of interaction with themed classes and colourful props. For 2 and 3 year olds, ‘jiggety jig’ classes help these little monkeys develop a strong sense of rhythm through dancing and singing in their group, composing their own music and playing percussion instruments. For 3 and 4 year olds, in ‘ding-dong’ classes with their ears ‘finely tuned’ our wisest monkeys also use their eyes to recognise written music, understand musical patterns and learn more about instruments of the orchestra.

Musical Minis

Musical Minis are fun pre-school music groups. Music classes for toddlers and babies offer your child the chance to be involved in developmental activities. Each structured session encourages cognitive, physical and emotional development through the use of music, instruments and stories.

The action songs and nursery rhymes used by Musical Minis are great for helping children develop language and coordination skills. It adds to their early education, teaching them parts of the body and counting in a fun way. The 45 minute sessions introduce children to all kinds of music—classical, jazz, disco—and everything in between! They discover rhythm, song, sound and movement and how to express themselves through music. To create a relaxed atmosphere and make sure everyone gets full enjoyment out of the classes, numbers are kept to 15 or less. Children and parents alike love joining in with the cheerful songs and stories exploring instruments, sounds and actions together.

Rhythm Time

Rhythm Time classes centre around ‘The Three Cs’: Confidence, Creativity, Coordination. Rhythm Time is a really enjoyable experience for children but it is much more than just a sing-along. It is a well thought out musical experience which uses lots of exciting songs and activities to help a child’s development and life skills. The classes instil in children a love and understanding of music from an early age. However, when you are involved in educating young children, it is very important that they have lots of fun during the lessons.

Children learn in different ways and are also at different stages developmentally. With this in mind and to enhance their experience in the classes, Rhythm Time offers different courses: music classes for babies, toddlers and pre-school children. In the classes there is lots of unaccompanied singing which helps the babies and children to start vocalising and to sing in tune. Singing together also helps to build the neural pathways that stimulate the growth of language and memory.

Children certainly learn from an early age that actively making music with others is a wonderful experience. Week by week, as they develop, so does their CONFIDENCE, CREATIVITY and COORDINATION.

Music Bus

Music Bus run fun and lively music, singing and movement classes for babies and young children providing an early introduction into music. At Music Bus they are passionate about children having fun and learning through music and the benefits this has on their development. A Music Bus class features a thirty minute music workshop followed by a half hour social time providing the perfect opportunity for parents and children to chill out and relax, meet new people and make new friends at a regular weekly music session.

Music Bus run exciting music and singing classes for babies and children from birth to 5 years. The music sessions are lively, interactive and lots of fun and have been professionally developed to make sure both you and your child get the very best from your regular weekly activity. Classes are offered in four age groups: Baby Music Café™ from birth to 6 months, Mini Bus from 6 months to 18 months, Single Deckers from 18 months to 3 years and Double Deckers from 3 years plus.


Kindermusik is a community of families and educators passionately committed to bringing music to children’s lives through developmentally appropriate curricula, CDs, books, instruments, and activities.

Kindermusik’s philosophy is founded upon rigorous research and their fundamental beliefs:

A parent or loving caregiver is a child’s first and most important teacher; All children are musical; The home is the most important learning environment; Music nurtures a child’s cognitive, emotional, social, language, and physical development; Children flourish in a child-centered environment where activities are developmentally appropriate; Educators value the learning process—not the performance—of music making; Every child should experience the joy, fun, and learning that music brings to life.

The full Kindermusik curricula offer your child seven years of musical learning that involves every aspect of your child’s growth and development: language, motor skills, social skills, cognitive development, emotional growth, and musicality.