What?: Mini Mozart is a music class with a difference – or so its website would have you believe. The difference, it says, is the presence of live music emanating from the skilled hands and mouths of professional musicians, as well as the fact that instrumental groping is advocated. Our class was led by an Icelandic clarinetist and his awesome piano accompanist to whom I am eternally grateful for taking pity on a nap-deprived Bab and letting her sit on her knee for the last 10 minutes while she banged out some Gershwin. There was a loose fairy-tale narrative sort of trying – and mostly failing – to tie everything together; the fairy tale being Jack and the Beanstalk and ‘everything’ including some reluctant clarinet prodding, a few generic nursery rhymes, the yanking of a giant scrunchy that I think was meant to represent the pulling up of the beanstalk, and obviously bubbles – although I can’t remember how those fit into the story. It was all a bit tenuous, as you would imagine of a retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk involving a parachute, a clarinet and an obligatory rendition of Zoom Zoom Zoom We’re Going to the Moon.
Where?: Our session was at Burgh House, a beautiful English Heritage property that hosts most of Hampstead’s under-5s classes. Mini Mozart also happens at 15 other locations around North, Central and West London, and four in Hertfordshire.
Duration: Forty-five minutes, which is the perfect baby class duration. Any less than this and your child will have a tantrum because they’re just getting into it and if you take them home now they will have you shot. Any more and they’ll have one because it’s gone on far too long and they demand to leave immediately lest they make the rest of your life insufferable.
Best Bits: While perhaps not quite as seamless or unique as I was expecting, I did think this class was brilliant. The teacher was enthusiastic and friendly without being annoying, and most of the kids were completely hypnotised by the steady stream of music and activity. I had a bit of a something-in-my-eye moment at the end when the babies were chasing bubbles, the pianist was playing a sad-happy song, all the parents had their cameras out and Bab looked positively euphoric.
Worst Bits: I would have liked to have seen more instrument touching. All the Mini Mozart advertising is plastered with photos of children holding and playing and licking instruments but all we got to do was poke a single clarinet key. Once. Rubbish. To be fair though musical instruments cost more than kidneys so I can see why these people don’t want a dozen soiled children slobbering all over them.
Cost: A full term costs between £88 and £169, depending on location, while a one-off ‘taster’ session costs £9-13. I’m assuming these discrepancies are to do with varying venue-hire costs rather than how moneyed the locals are, though Covent Garden, Fitzrovia, Primrose Hill and Hampstead are all at the top end of the price scale so really who knows. We paid £13, which I thought was a bit steep considering we’ve been to similar classes in the same location that cost less than half that. There is a lot of pressure to buy a full term and you can only go to a taster session if the class isn’t fully booked, which quite a few were. Obviously I get why they do this and in their defence they do offer a money-back guarantee if you’re not absolutely living it up, but I just think babies are way too unpredictable for this to be reasonable. What if your kid gets ill or needs a nap or does a huge shit just before you’re about to leave and then you discover you’re fresh out of baby wipes? What then?
Would We Come Back?: This was life-affirming and magical and I’d definitely book another taster session, if that’s even allowed, but I’m far too commitment-phobic and poor to splash out on a full term.
A nap-deprived Bab attaches herself to the pianist at Mini Mozart, Burgh House, Hampstead