Making music for munchkins

Karla Hayward
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Tiny tykes get to cut their own CDs at innovative music school

Lisa Gillam's The Munchkin Music Factory offers music classes for children starting at ages three and up.

If there’s a kid out there who doesn’t love music, he or she is definitely hiding it well from the world.

Whether singing along to nursery songs or bopping to the beat, small children just seem to have a natural affinity for music. (Type “dancing baby” and “samba” into YouTube if you’re feeling any doubt.)

Making the most of that natural interest is the goal of Lisa Gillam and The Munchkin Music Factory. In Gillam’s classes, offered for children as young as three, there’s no homework or pressure, just learning cleverly disguised as play.

“Classes involve singing, dancing, child-size instruments and games. I like to keep the pressure off at that age and focus on developing some core skills, like singing in tune or playing with the beat,” she said.

“I just want kids to explore and enjoy and fall in love with music.”

Think this sounds similar to the usual music class for young children? Well, here’s Gillam’s differentiating factor: in her classes, each child gets to record a CD of their own music, along with a song written just for him or her by Gillam and Co.

“We sit with each child and ask questions. Get to know them a little better. Find out what they like, what they want to be when they grow up. That way we can write a song that’s really personal,” Gillam said.

Then it’s off into the studio for your future pop star, ready to sing or play along with a full orchestral background, with Gillam’s personalized tune added onto the disc.

On the technical side of things, Gillam’s got it covered. She has extensive experience teaching music to young children, both locally and internationally, including four years in a pre-school.

She also holds a bachelor of music and bachelor of music education from Memorial University.

The Kodaly Method is Gillam’s choice in her classes.

“It’s a ‘sound before symbol’ education,” she notes.

Using a child-development ap­proach, new skills are introduced in sequence with an individual’s capabilities.

“They don’t even realize they’re learning,” says Gillam. “They don’t have to sit still and listen to a teacher. They’re playing with puppets or wearing a silly hat or banging on the drums.”

Gillam is passionate about the value of her classes, saying, “I believe we are helping to nurture future members of the (Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra) and elite choirs as well as creating a lifelong love of music.”

Oh, and parents, take note. You’ll definitely be encouraged to really get in there with your kid. Singing, playing, dancing, whatever. If you’re up for it, Gillam says go for it.

“It’s so wonderful to invite parents into the classroom and get them involved in the experience.”

The Munchkin Music Factory is hosting an open house on Sept. 11 at which parents and kids can experience a sample class at no cost. Gillam asks that you do register in advance.

Classes begin the week of Sept. 13 and are offered to five age groups: age three, age four, kindergarten, Grade 1 and Grade 2. Each class has a maximum of 10 participants. Gillam says classes are filling up quickly.

Organizations: Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra

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  • Erin
    September 10, 2010 - 21:15

    Newfoundland... you're so lucky to have Lisa in your province! We loved attending Munchkin Music Factory in Fredericton, NB and miss her very much! My son still remembers all of his instruments and listens to his special song frequently. An awesome program and a more than awesome teacher. Sign up today - you don't want to miss this!

  • Munchkin Music Factory
    September 10, 2010 - 10:54

    Thank you for reading this wonderful article and many thanks to those who have commented! Someone has suggested that we post our contact information here. It does appear in the print version. Here it is: Phone: 738-3082 Location: Long and McQuade - 447 Kenmount Road Web: www.MunchkinMusicFactory.com Email: info@munchkinmusicfactory.com Hope to see you at our Open House tomorrow!

  • Elizabeth Ares
    September 10, 2010 - 09:12

    Lisa is an amazing music teacher! Passionate, patient and encouraging. What more could you want?

    • nanceTO
      September 10, 2010 - 10:21

      Lisa is a fabulous musician and educator! Where is the Open House? Contact info to register?