They run Monkey Music in Queen’s Park, Kensal, Notting Hill, Kensington, Hampstead, Maida Vale & St John’s Wood, welcoming around 600 children each week into their fun and engaging pre-school music classes.
Locals with a large extended family, the children of whom have all attended the classes, Monkey Music is a family affair which has stood the test of time, thrived through recent challenges and is now excited about the future.
We were lucky enough to catch up with the Monkey Music gang for the QPF Spotlight.
It’s been 12 yrs since it all began with Monkey Music. What keeps you inspired year after year?
There’s a pure joy teaching music to children – Alex gets clapped at the end of every song (he starts the clapping) so he’s always genuinely buzzing. The slightly more challenging side can be the admin around our extensive kit of props and dealing with last minute surprises. An absolutely awful example, but we saw the footage of St Mark’s Church (in John’s Wood) burning down on TV and then realised we had 120 people due there in the next 24hrs! Unrelaxing.
Any tips for parents on musical activities to do at home?
With very young babies it’s fun to have different pieces of music that queue different parts of the day. E.g. the Aquarium from Carnival of the Animals for bath time. Another fun thing to do is dance to music while holding them and then pause the music and freeze. This helps them understand that it’s the music you’re responding to and that it’s something other than just a sound. They start to find this funny from a very young age.
How did you end up teaching music to preschool children?
Eloise worked in TV production & distribution for 15 years but the travel wasn’t working with having a growing family. She felt (at the time) that pre-school mothers were generally underserved and was looking for something in the pre-school space when the opportunity came up. Alex was a musician and Central Speech & Drama graduate & Zed was just leaving his job at Sony so it all just came together.
Is it tough sometimes working with family? What are the upsides/downsides?
Weirdly it’s very enjoyable- we have quite different roles – Alex is out at class and working with the teaching team. And Zed and Eloise have been trained since birth to spend all day together. We do annoy each sometimes but the team dynamic is strong and we all coach each other out of corners.
What’s the most fun thing about teaching music to children?
When they come regularly they have a really intense relationship with music and with the class, they get incredibly excited from the moment they enter the room.
What’s something funny that’s happened in class?
Alex doesn’t think it’s funny, but in the summer when Alex wears shorts, the young toddlers like to steady themselves by grabbing his leg hair.
There’s a lot of competition for pre-school classes – what makes Monkey Music special? And how do you develop the classes?
Great question. There are a lot of fantastic classes out there. I would say we’re special because we keep the age groups separate, we’re not too repetitive (although children like a bit of familiarity), we’re not patronising, and the classes are only 30mins. Some people may think it’s too short but, in our experience, the children start to lose it soon after. As a mother Eloise, found she couldn’t do longer than 30 mins!
Why is music important for children’s development?
We think early exposure to music is very important (and enjoyable) for babies & toddlers as it encourages their natural development by stimulating their listening skills and stimulating cognitive, motor and language development, physical coordination, as well as their social and emotional development.
Even just listening to music can help stimulate a baby’s brain, improve their memory and concentration, and promote overall brain development. It can also help them with their coordination, as they try to move their body in time with the music.
For language development, listening to music with lyrics can help babies learn new words and improve their pronunciation. It can also teach them about rhythm, pitch and tone, which are important aspects of language.
Also because it’s fun and joyous music helps young babies and toddlers with their emotional and social development, by creating a positive and calming environment, and bringing people together through singing and dancing.
When parent/guardian wants to bring their child to your class,how does it work?
Your first class if free and your place is then held for 48hours after your trial if you decide you would like to join. You can look for convenient times and venues via the link in our bio or you can Google Monkey Music + your postcode or area.
If you see a class that is full, you can always email us and it will be our pleasure to double check for you email@example.com
How do you guys unwind at the weekend?
We do fake tap dancing and we also have a pretty average band with our other siblings + wags (only available for jubilee street parties) where we all sing over each other in harmonies that nearly work.
What do you each love most about the area, any fave haunts?
Zed and Alex like going to unwelcoming pubs and seeing how long they can last before going back to the Salusbury. We all love Beer & Burger in Willesden Green. Eloise also likes to browse in Lily King, a lovely little gift shop near Beer & Burger (also online).
What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Keep going, keep growing and be kind. And it’s important to play – especially for adults!
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Eloise: “can you help me?”
Alex: “pick up your phone”
What was the last book you read each read?
Eloise – Brene Brown: Atlas of the Heart.
Zed – Lily Allen: My Thoughts Exactly.
Alex – Cormac Mac Carthy: The Passenger.
Monkey Music, involves lots of singing, what are your Karaoke songs?
Alex is always first up and is 100% awesome on Mustang Sally – Eloise and Zed would rather die.
Tell us a secret ?
Eloise failed her Monkey Music teacher training test (don’t worry – she doesn’t teach).
What’s the future for Monkey music, is there anything planned this year you could share with us?
We’ve just a launched a new NW6 venue on the Kilburn side as Salusbury Road & College Rd are super popular. And Monkey Music is celebrating its 30th birthday and raising money through a series of parties for the amazing music therapy Hamspstead-based charity: Nordorff Robbins.
they cover Monkey Music Baby & Toddler Classes in Hampstead & Belsize Park, NW3, Primrose Hill, NW1, Queen’s Park, West Hampstead & Swiss Cottage, NW6 & Willesden Green, NW2.
website link: Monkey Music Hampstead
Tel : 020 8438 0189