Research shows that music plays an integral role in a child’s development and helps build a range of skills, including intellectual, social-emotional, motor, language, and overall literacy.
Motor skills can also be gained through dancing which, alongside music, helps youngsters to practice self expression and helps their minds and bodies work together.
And it is with this information that Moo Music was formed in 2013, with a story based around the colourful characters of the ‘Moo Croo’ – Maggie Moo, Barry Baa, Ollie Oink, Henry Horse, Doris Duck and Hollie Hen – who live on Chestnut Farm and invite children to join in their adventures.
Today, there are 192 so-called farmers bringing ‘moosical fun’ to a total of 1,348 postcodes in the UK, Ireland, Spain, Australia, and the USA.
Beck Allison is the owner, or Head Farmer, of Moo Music in Chesterfield and Dronfield and said the classes are a great way to make new friends and are a confidence booster both for the children and the adults too.
She said: “We are fun, engaging, moosical classes for under fives. We sing, we dance, we sign, play – we just have lots of fun, not only for the children but for the grown ups too.
"We have a range of music and movement classes and we also run baby massage and baby yoga classes as well.
"Our classes are great for socialisation of adults and children, helping little ones prepare for school. We help to build confidence, sensory development and encourage learning through play. Our songs are exciting, engaging and educational - the children are often learning without even realising.
“They learn through their play – the most beneficial way for them to learn.
"We’ve got songs such as the Number Rumba where they’re learning not only rhyming, they’re learning counting, repetition; there’s just so much they can gain from the sessions.”
Mum-of-two Beck launched the Chesterfield and Dronfield arm of Moo Music in September 2017, before expanding into the Mosborough and Eckington areas two years later.
She now runs classes with Kellsey Brown, a so-called ‘farmer’ who is responsible for sessions in areas including Clowne, Walton, Eckington, and Duckmanton – with Beck also concentrating on those in Walton, as well as New Whittington, Mosborough and Dronfield.
Sadly, the pair were forced to initially withdraw their Moo Music offering when the pandemic first hit last year but were later able to adapt classes to support children and their families during lockdown.
"Through the first lockdown, we weren’t able to run at all so we went online,” Beck said.
"We offered Zoom classes for grownups to use so it was great for the children and enabled them to have some structure in their day and some routine. And, also, because of the way it was set up it meant it was often the only time they had to interact with other children via the screen.
“Peer support is so important to enable parents to meet other parents with children of the same or similar age.
"Ninety five per cent of new mothers said they had better mental health after attending a baby group, according to International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics volume 151, issue three – maternal mental health, coping during Covid-19 lockdown in the UK.
"Parents also felt robbed of their maternity leave and had practical barriers to help, so it was important for us to keep running to offer any support we could.
"When we returned we had to take a lot of measures to make sure things were safe, such as individual prop bags, social distancing, making sure that classes were staying in bubbles, regular hand washing and sanitising, and wearing masks. It was quite different to how we run now.
Speaking about the feedback received from parents, grandparents, and carers once classes were able to return, Beck added: “They were just grateful to be able to bring their children back and get them socialising again.
"There’s a lot of issues around mental health at the moment and before Covid-19, it was estimated around 20 per cent of new or expectant mothers were suffering from a mental health illness.
"That’s almost doubled since Covid-19 and going forward so it’s really important, not only for the children, but for the grown ups, to be able to come and socialise.”
Beck said the reaction from the children since the return of classes has been “amazing”.
She added: “We’re still encouraging certain Covid-19 measures, such as the individual prop bags, but it’s been great to interact properly again and they have a sharing element of the sessions which we thoroughly clean in between sessions as well.
“It’s just lovely to be back.”
Moo Music has access to a list of over 125 original songs which are used during sessions, all of which have been by professional songwriter Craig McLeish, who has arranged and copied music for West End shows such as Les Miserables and Miss Saigon.
Beck and Kellsey host a range of Moo Music classes across Chesterfield, Dronfield, Mosborough and Eckington for children aged five and under, with messy play and crafty specials also on offer during the half term.
For further details on class timetables visit www.moomusicchesterfield.com.