Babies’ Academy of Music is a wonderful new group in the Midlands, presenting workshops and performances to babies and young children. Concerts that are aimed at early years are a fantastic idea, allowing little ones the opportunity to learn about and love music. BAM kindly invited us along to watch their ‘Summer Sounds’ at the MAC in Birmingham yesterday – this is what happened…
I have written before about what a lovely venue the MAC is for families. It is modern and clean, with great facilities and a very varied cafe. They have events all year round for adults and children of all ages, including lots of great options for people with learning difficulties. It is so accessible and welcoming, and such a great place to visit. Set in Cannon Hill Park, you can make a full day out of attending an event at the MAC. There are lakes, rides, playgrounds, boats – even a little train to take you round the park.
BAM held their Summer Sounds concert in the Outdoor Arena. This was the first time we have visited this space, and it was ideal for such a fresh concert. Seating is unallocated, so we were free to sit where we were most comfortable. There is a small stage, tiered seating all around it, and an artificial grass area in the middle, directly in front of the stage. We were given foam cushions to sit on, and headed for the grassy area in the middle. Most people had sat here, and there was a great atmosphere as everyone relaxed and got comfortable. Young children were crawling around freely, babies were feeding, and parents were kicking off their shoes. The coloured umbrellas scattered above our heads made a great focal point for the youngsters, while we were waiting for the concert to begin.
Babies’ Academy of Music
Sam Frankie Fox and Ricardo Rocha run BAM. Sam is from Wales, and has a musical and theatrical background. Ricardo is from Portugal, and is a musical and sound-explorer. Together, they make a warm and colourful duo, full of intriguing ideas and musical excitement. They had a very interesting set up on the stage. There was a keyboard, accordion, harp, vibraslap, drums, triangle, guitars, ukelele….and many more things to capture the attention of little eyes! Right from the start, Sam made us feel relaxed and at ease, encouraging the children to move around if they wanted to.
The 40 minute concert took us on a journey through the folk-inspired music of their homelands. We visited magical places, splashed around on the beach, listened to the rain pouring down, and met mystical creatures. The songs moved seamlessly into each other, using simple melodies which appeal most to little ones. The use of unusual percussion sounds meant that the babies were always interested, and keen to see what was making the sounds. There was a returning refrain, built on the sound ‘BAM’, which nicely divided the concert up into different sections.
There were elements of audience participation throughout as well. Clapping, clicking, rubbing our hands, singing – there were lots of ways to engage our children. J especially enjoyed the moments when Sam walked amongst us, to show us different effects. During a birdsong, she brought a little bird into the audience, chirping as she moved. When the ‘rain’ started, she came out with a coloured umbrella. This had chimes tied to the inside which made a lovely sounds as she walked.
We had a lovely afternoon listening to the sounds of summer. Taking J to these relaxed concerts is a perfect way of introducing him to a theatre environment, in an informal setting. He loves to watch the different instruments, and enjoys clapping his hands when there is a piece he particularly enjoys. Like the Babies’ Academy of Music Facebook page for updates of all their upcoming performances – I can’t wait to see what they do next.
Disclaimer: We were invited to watch Summer Sounds in exchange for this review. I have not been paid for this post, and I would never write a good review about a show that we had not enjoyed.