Early years music practitioner Mayo Yoshida and a team of Royal College of Music students lead Mini Sparks every Tuesday in a local North Kensington community centre. The music sessions, which last for 45 minutes, are aimed at babies and toddlers age 0-3 and their parents/carers.
Mini Sparks’ unique offer focuses on a combination of:
- Live performance from inspiring young RCM musicians – making live music accessible in a familiar setting
- Adult-led circle-time activity - helping families build new musical ideas and songs into their daily lives
- Child-initiated/adult-responsive music-making - placing a child’s spontaneous, playful and creative music making at the heart of their musical learning, where communication is encouraged through music.
- Interaction with specialist staff in structured social time with live music, allowing meaningful time for sharing, feedback and support for parents.
Mini Sparks' feedback has shown how much families value the time to learn how to truly listen, tune in and play with their children through music. This can raise self-esteem & confidence and can heighten the ability to focus and listen and contribute with others over time. It also teaches and promotes healthy attachment and communication methods between parents and children through play. Mini Sparks offers an inclusive experience offering families of all backgrounds the opportunity to start their musical journey within a socially supportive, friendly network.
Some key benefits as noted by parents in feedback include:
- Exploring mindful playing
- Enjoying live music
- Deepening and strengthening parent/child relationship
- Encouraging child’s expression
- Escape from struggles of home life
- Having fun
- Finding new ways to communicate
- Structuring activities at home more usefully
- Allowing freedom of expression
- Exploring creativity
- Giving children space and time to process and self soothe
- Using new communication techniques in other areas of home life
- Providing a structure/anchor in the week
- Developing listening skills
- Building confidence
- Understanding turn taking and/or negotiating
- Following instructions without being forced
- Promotion of individuality and confidence
“It helps me practice mindful playing with my child and the child led part allows me to see things for his own perspective….For both of us [the social time] is an essential part where we both get to enjoy more of the beautiful music played by the RCM students. My son loves the cello and the viola and sits and listens attentively to the whole piece, and claps his hands at the end in appreciation. Mayo is one of the best educators I have met, her method really supports both the child and the parent/carer in developing their relationship deeper. This is THE most effective class we ever attended.”
“I think it teaches parents the importance of encouraging our children's expression as well as how to do so. I observed how for some parents the sessions offered more than just a nice structured activity to share with their child, but provided an escape from the struggles of home life. The added support provided…is first of all just outstanding service, truly going above and beyond. Secondly, it shows that Mayo has a great passion for what she is delivering. When she interacts with the children it shows parents that we need to lighten up and have some more fun with the children. Sending this message out to the parents is in my view better than any therapy session“.
“I have learned that there are so many ways to communicate that are worth exploring. I have learned how to have more fun with my son, also how to I can structure our activities to fill the time more usefully. I have realised that it is important to give children boundaries but also to encourage their freedom of expression and creativity. I learned to give my son space and time to process and self soothe. Overall I feel empowered to provide a more nourishing environment for my son, I believe our communication and relationship is stronger because of these sessions and what we took home, and mostly, I think my son just benefits from and enjoys the fact that I learned how to have fun again”.
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