Melbourne Symphony Orchestra - Jams for Juniors 7 Review

Last weekend, one of our Melbourne contributors Kate took her little ones to a Jams for Juniors session. The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (MSO)'s Jams for Juniors sessions are a great experience to expose children to music from an early age. During the sessions, children are taught about rhythm and melody and are invited to play along with the orchestra and enjoy a special treat at the end. Thank you Kate for this great review and pics!
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Today we know more about how children learn and grow than ever before. Music is great for young brains and exposure from early on has proven benefits – plus it’s fun and enjoyable!

At the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (MSO) they believe that experiences with great music inspire the imagination and ignite a thirst for knowledge.  With their wide range of programs, they strive to create experiences that combine the highest principles of music education with a joyful and fun approach to audience engagement.    

Making music is an experience to be shared. Jams for Juniors offers a musical adventure for children up to five years and their parents.  Arlo and Macy absolutely love music, so this was definitely a workshop that we were very eager to attend!

Due to extensive renovations at the ABC Southbank our session of Jams for Juniors 7 took place at Swanston Hall, Melbourne Town Hall instead of the Iwaki Auditorium. We entered Swanston Hall via the mezzanine level and descended down the marble stairs into the main room with Macy excitedly playing with the black music note jumbo balloons that were close by.  Beneath an intricately beautiful lighting dome, Swanston Hall’s rich green tones, timber panelling and Art Deco grace definitely provided a stunning alternate venue location.

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We navigated our way over to a little area just to the left of the stage and secured four colourful cushions (which might I add were super comfortable and I later learned were provided by a collaboration between three local Melbourne businesses).  We had not been seated long, before the poppets spotted the collection of musical instruments that were scattered on the floor. Wow, what a collection of instruments there was! Jingles and handbells, wooden castanets, claves and tapping sticks, finger cymbals, egg shakers and maracas, tambourines, metal triangles, hand held wood tone blocks and cabasas all patiently waiting for little musicians to pick them up. As the children began to explore their instruments, the sound in the room was already magical and the workshop hadn’t even begun.

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It wasn’t long before the musicians of the MSO entered the stage, led out by our facilitator for the morning, Karen Kyriakou.  Karen introduced the musicians and tested the audience on their accompanying instruments including the keyboard, violin, French horn, xylophone/glockenspiel, snare drum and cello.

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Today’s workshop featured music from Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No.4 (The Emperor) and after a quick warm up (copying the actions to “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” early on a Saturday morning is hard enough, let alone when you have to do it backwards!). Karen was teaching the children about rhythm and melody and inviting them to play along with the orchestra.  Arlo preferred to sit on my lap during the performance; watching the musicians intently and alternating between a castanet and large half moon tambourine. Meanwhile Macy was determined to join the musicians on stage and was seen energetically shaking two maracas throughout the entire performance.  Our little ones were definitely too young to understand Karen's instructions, but thoroughly enjoyed playing with a variety of instruments and watching the musicians and other children playing.

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At the end of the 30 minute session, we were invited up to the stage to meet the members of the MSO and see their instruments up close. Master Arlo was super excited to tap away on the keyboard (and cheekily press a few buttons!) and bang the sticks on the snare drum. Macy preferred to explore the other musical instruments on the floor and help to reposition the cushions ready for the next session! 

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Jams for Juniors provides not only a valuable opportunity for little ones to listen and respond to popular repertoires but it also inspires them to have a lifelong passion for music. With programs designed for children of all ages, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra can be a valuable inclusion to your family and enhance your child’s musical journey.  

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Our tips:

  • We highly recommend allowing time for your child to meet the musicians at the end of the session. They love chatting to the little ones and seeing their faces light up when they have a turn playing an instrument.
  • Limited chairs are provided at the back and sides of the hall, so arrive early if you would prefer to sit on a chair instead of the floor.
  • The dedicated entrance to Swanston Hall from Swanston walk is pram friendly.
  • Pram parking is available on the mezzanine level of Swanston Hall. 
  • The Melbourne Town Hall is family friendly with baby-change and feeding areas located adjacent to Swanston Hall.
> The next Jams for Juniors session will be held on Saturday 12th of Nov, more info here.

> For more ideas, head to our daily spots list.