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Let's Face the Music and Dance!

As a child, I used to adore going to outdoor music concerts with my family. It wasn't just the fabulous music that appealed so much, but the shared experience with my mum, dad and sister. Of course, there was also the “guess the colour of the marshmallow” competition too; we'd always take a picnic and we'd each take it in turns to pop a sweet treat into our mouths, eyes shut, to guess whether it was pink or white!

Listening to and making music is not only fun, but researchers have discovered that very early musical training benefits children even before they can walk or talk. They found that babies who take part in interactive music sessions show better early communication skills, are more smiley and show less distress in unfamiliar situations

This is all fantastic news for us mums and dads, who are searching for engaging activities for our babies and toddlers during the summer holiday. Luckily, there are a fair few musical offerings across Edinburgh.

Monkey Music is collaborating with Cheeky Chefs for two summer workshops in July for under 6s. Following a pirate or jungle theme, each session will be jam packed with singing, dancing and instrument playing, followed by an introduction to cooking and some tasty goodies to take home. The sessions will run at 9.30 and 13.00 on 11th and 18th July at Boroughmuir Rugby Club and costs £15 per child.  You can book here.

Summer music sessions are taking place on Thursdays at the Pregnancy and Parents Centre. The classes are tailored to different age groups and involve clapping, bouncing and tapping for very young babies, through to engaging sound journeys and storytelling with 3 and 4 year olds. There are percussion instruments to explore, stimulating multi-sensory props and puppets.

The summer holidays seemed to creep up on baby Jack and I very quickly and before I knew it, our regular mother and baby groups and little classes had stopped. So when the Recitals for Wrigglers first birthday celebrations popped up in my Facebook feed, I was thrilled. Two professional musicians, a violinist and a cellist, perform concerts tailored for babies and toddlers in venues around Edinburgh. We went to one of these in South Queensferry, which was so popular that the event was moved to a bigger hall. Toddlers jiggled and tottered to the music and babies shrieked in delight. It felt very special, watching Jack so enthralled and animated. He loved chomping at the concert programme and waving the remains in his little hands, too!  New events are listed on the Recitals for Wrigglers Facebook page.

Perfect for meeting with friends and combining with a coffee (and cake) break, the music sessions at Stockbridge's Skylark Cafe are a real treat. Under 5s experience live music, Scottish songs and poems and classic nursery rhymes, courtesy of Song Circle. Sessions run Monday – Thursday at 9.10 and 10.30 and on Fridays at 9.30 and 11.00. You'll need to book, so email songcircle.gill@gmail.com for the details.

Of course, there's the Fringe coming up too, with some fabulous musical extravaganzas for under 5s. Bambino Beats have got their festival show in Leith, bringing together musical instruments, puppets, themed props and sensory play. Another highlight of the Fringe is the critically acclaimed Bach to Baby classical concert, The Soulful Cello. Children can dance, roam about and listen to music while parents take a moment to enjoy an exhilarating performance. This hour-long concert is on at St John's Church and can be booked via the Fringe website.

On the off chance that you find yourself at a loose end one day and can't find an organised musical event, I can highly recommend a pair of maracas. Bright orange ones. They can raise a smile on Jack's little face, however explosive the tantrum!

Kirsty, Editor