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Do Re Mi Day Nursery, which opens in the New Year, is thought to be Britain’s first nursery that is dedicated to using music as the central tool to nurturing happy, well-rounded young children.
Based near Durham, the Do Re Mi Nursery has been founded by Dr Jane Todd, who has more than 10 years experience as a primary school music teacher, as well as a life-long passion for music.
“We’re not about encouraging babies to become mini-Beethovens or anything like that – it’s more about bringing joy and enhancing the learning experience,” says Dr Todd, whose doctorate is in musical education and who also plays the violin and piano. The nursery will offer both day nursery places and weekly classes.
“I want to develop a place where positive learning takes place and make the most of music as a tool for exploration and development. All children are natural musicians, and babies are born with the most accurate pitch. In a sense, music makes the most of natural resources,” she says.
The idea for the nursery came about partly as a result of the birth of Dr Dodd’s son who is now a year old. “After teaching music for years at primary and prep schools, I wanted to see the difference that incorporating music into a nursery setting - in a sense from the beginning - can make,” she says.
“A lot of nurseries do music in segments, which means listening to and singing songs as and when. By contrast, what Do Re Mi will offer is a highly structured way of using music as a tool for exploration and development. We will be teaching in a flexible, fun way to combine sounds, movement into an exciting journey of discovery.”
Little and often will be the approach taken by the nursery. “Music will be woven into the day with, say, two 15-minute teacher-led sessions in the morning and afternoon, then the children will have every opportunity to play with instruments and there will be musical games,” says Dr Todd.
The inspiration behind this type of music education is based on the theories of a Hungarian composer, Zoltán Kodály, who developed an approach to music education in Hungary in the mid-20th century, which encourages aural and singing-based activities. These have been shown to improve other areas of learning, such as reading and maths.
In accordance with Mr Kodály‘s belief that music education begins before the child is born, the Do Re Mi nursery offers classes for expectant mothers as well as 45-minute weekly classes for babies and children up to preschool.
Typical examples of classes include ‘Looking and listening: using singing in daily activities’ for babies under one and their parents and, for older children, ‘Up and about’ which is about learning to move rhythmically, and ‘Curling and stretching’ which teaches spatial awareness through music.