Friday, 18 April 2014

Notelets... Classics and jazz for kids

Kids concerts with an hilarious twist... 
Last week I had the best fun in a concert I have ever had.... Well maybe it didn't quite top the Star Wars spectacular when Darth Vader conducted with a light sabre but... I joined Catherine Arlidge, member of the violin section of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and children's concert presenter extraordinaire, in what I can only describe as a whirlwind introduction to classical music (and jazz) for kids age 2-6.
'Notelets' concerts last about 50 minutes and I can honestly say the children, and I, were transfixed throughout the entire performance. So often, with the best will in the world, there will be moments in a concert where children's concentration is challenged. The nose picking starts and little bottoms start shifting as we all agree 'it's a bit long for them to concentrate'. However, the incredibly well thought out pacing of the concert meant the kids did get 'down time' numbers between the racing around in the 'racing car' song and marching in the 'Grand Old Duke of York' but in the guise of lying down as sleeping bunnies or becoming twinkling stars. I couldn't see a single child who wasn't hanging on Catherine's every word. Even I found myself grinning like an imbecile at the fantastic witty arrangements by trombonist Alwyn Green which challenged all the musicians and caused quite a few unauthorised giggles.... The kids come up to the stage after the concert and get to try out the
Alwyn Green and his trombone
instruments and meet the musicians who they feel they know by the end of the session. Even the most shy children who peered out from behind parents at the beginning of the concert were bounding forward at the end to pull Alwyn's trombone slide, play rock and roll duets on the piano and pluck the double bass. My kids haven't stopped going on at me since they came to Catherine's concert, to take them again. They announced to me that they 'know how to play now you know' and they want to be musicians when they grow up and play with Catherine....
Catherine and Alwyn started working together in the Berkely Salon Ensemble playing music arranged by Alywn from the 1920s and 30s. This 'flapper' group plays for dances and parties and has the great vibe one gets when everyone there is doing it for the love of the music. Both Alwyn and Catherine's senses of humour shine through in the work they do.
Notelets concerts occur 4 times a year at CBSO Centre in Birmingham, so if you live anywhere near them- take your kids along now! Check out if Catherine is bringing Notelets anywhere near you at I can guarantee nothing will make your kids love music more than this afternoon of music education and appreciation disguised as rip roaring fun!

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