I started singing with mums and babies in Abingdon Baptist toddler group in 1983. It was here that, using my skills from primary school teaching, I started to devise a repertoire of fun sing-along songs popular enough to hold the attention of young children and their parents. And I noticed that the children played very nicely after our singing together – a lovely benefit of making music. This group became so popular that by the time I left, parents were sitting 3 deep around the room.
When I moved to Emsworth in 1988 I started a singing group in my dining room. A few friends came round and we sang nursery rhymes for the children, with Linda Hume on her guitar. Soon we had 20 mums coming round, so we moved to a hall. After a while we had 40 families and outgrew the hall.
At this time thirty years ago, there were no groups for mums and babies where singing was the main ingredient. Many groups concentrated on developing skills for the children but left no time for mums to socialise, mums were just as lonely as when at home. Many groups concentrated on cheering mums up but their children were just left to ‘mix in’ with other children. Our singalong group covered child development and parents socialising in one group.
I feel that probably we were the founders of organised mums and baby music groups. We had so many customers that we moved to a bigger hall, and soon had so many families that we had to run 2 groups. People were coming from as far away as Guildford, Southampton and Bognor, to sing with us.
By 1994 we regularly saw 120 families in 2 groups of 60 families every Friday; the sound of 60 people singing together was fantastic! The children loved it too and were spellbound.
From this beginning I set up singing groups in Denmead, Chichester and Havant with similar success.
In 1995 I called my groups Mumbaba; in 2,000 I was helped by a local businessman and became Mumbaba Ltd. We have gone from strength to strength from then.
We celebrated my 25 years of singing with babies in Emsworth in 2013. We had a huge party and coverage in the local papers. I am delighted that the song structure that I devised a quarter of a century ago still works and enchants babies and toddlers. I am still thrilled with my job.
I was pleased that so much interest was shown in Mumbaba, and this coverage encouraged more mums to bring their young babies to Mumbaba to ”get out of the house”; Mumbaba is really an uplifting group to go to with a young baby.
Mumbaba is a terrific job if you like to organise singing in a group. I have been singing with large groups of babies on their parent/carers laps since 1987, I still really get a thrill out of seeing babies and toddlers spellbound by the sound of us all singing together.
The traditional nursery rhymes that we sing always sound so fantastic that even ”cry babies” forget to cry! I am delighted that so many groups enjoy the songs that I have put together for Mumbaba. I am always being thanked for encouraging little ones to enjoy music.
Over the years, I have heard a great many stories of how Mumbaba has boosted the confidence of children so that they have been able to shake off their shyness and join in happily.
I recorded the very successful ‘‘Hop Little Rabbits” CD and tape in 1998 with a local sound engineer. The initial run of 500 ran out in the first two weeks! I am pleased to say that I have sold them at a steady rate ever since. The combination of my solo voice and the tunes and lyrics of traditional nursery rhymes has a very soothing effect on young children.
It soon becomes a great favourite for children in the car and at bedtime. Countless parents tell me how their little ones demand to hear it played.
I am also very pleased that parents of hearing impaired children tell me how their children love it because it is such a clear recording.
Children who have attended the Delta Workshops in Winchester are great fans of the CD as its so clear.
Recently Mumbaba has sent copies of ”Hop Little Rabbits‘‘ recordings out to child centered charities in Rwanda, Johannesburg and Uganda, I was delighted to be able to give some means of enjoyment to these neglected children, as well as being useful to those learning English.
The Hop Little Rabbits CD is also being used as a language teaching aid for infants in China.
After all this time, I still love to sing with mums and babies and cannot think of a more rewarding and satisfying job.