Small Acorns grow Big Trees

'', ''
This little man has always been drawn to our class violins. Spotting this interest, we chatted about how to make the most of it and his parents signed him up for Suzuki method violin lessons. Last week he came in to play for his class, aged 3. What a treat.

It coincided that the very same day, Andrea received a message from a previous Music Train teacher. "Thought I must share this with you. One of my 1st batch of Music Train students started her journey with me at 3 months, then violin aged 4. She has worked her way up through all the string groups to county level and just got a distinction in her grade 8 aged 14. So proud of her."

We love it when our families stay in touch with their news. We could tell you many similar stories about our ex pupils.

Planning for a safe return

'', ''

Our teachers are busy through the summer preparing for our safe return in September. Since March we have being enjoying online interactive classes via zoom and these will be continuing throughout August. We have relished the opportunity to create a whole new way of working but have missed seeing everyone in person. In September we return to a new normal and can't wait to see all our lovely families again in a safe environment.

Battle of the Bands Best Guitarist Winner

'', ''

Andrea had a super proud evening at Battle of the Bands, when an ex-pupil was awarded the title of Best Guitarist by an esteemed panel of judges. It was a huge achievement as his band was selected from 80 that auditioned. M was also one of the youngest participating, at just 13 years of age.

M's family have moved to Bucks but asked Andrea to join them for the event, because they believe it all started from Music Train. His parents do not have musical backgrounds themselves but at just 2 years of age M showed huge interest and affinity with the guitar At the end of every session, he insisted on sitting with Andrea to play on her guitar, and it was because of him that a whole class set was bought for the organisation. His interest and curiosity inspired the writing of our well-loved 'Strings' topic.

What a fantastic evening and a privilege to be a part of it all!!!

Introducing our newest teacher

'', ''

Our latest teacher, Sarah Findon successfully launched our new branch in Biggleswade this term, and has met with such overwhelming response that she is already having to expand to a second day. As a music graduate, specialising in brass instruments, she has embraced the first topic 'brass instruments' where children have had hands on experience of trombones, trumpets and the French horn.

Over the Christmas season, you may well spot her out and about in town centres playing Christmas carols on her trumpet. Here she is pictured playing a solo on her trumpet with Hitchin Band. We feel very fortunate to have her on our team.

21st birthday picnic

'', ''

The Music Train is extremely proud to have delivered high quality musical education to local families for 21 years. To mark this huge achievement and to re-unite past and present families and teachers, we are organising a teddy bear’s picnic in the town where it all started - Welwyn Garden City. Our vision is to gather together as many families and teachers as possible and to celebrate in style, we will wear our special edition 21st birthday t-shirts, available in yellow, red and blue. With approximately 800 families attending our classes each week and thousands over the past 21 years, this event is particularly exciting as it will be the first time we have ever gathered the whole group together.

Please click on this link or the picture below to book your place and to order your celebration tickets and goody filled lunch bags.



The event will take place at 1pm on Sunday 26th June 2016 at South Side of Stanborough Park, Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, AL8 6DQ.

How do I book?

The deadline for booking this event has now passed and if you have already booked, you will soon receive an email giving further information.

Why did I need to book?

Although entry to Stanborough Park is free, the venue have asked us to provide numbers in order to prepare a robust risk assessment for the event. By asking you to purchase a goody filled lunch bag to attend, we could gain an idea of attendance levels. Your ticket also entitled you to a prize draw entry, a goody filled lunch box (non-food items), a child's special edition t-shirt, a waving flag, colouring book, craft activities, frisbee, bubbles, car sticker and fridge magnet.

Is the event open to families who do not attend The Music Train?

Everyone is welcome, whether you are a family who attended in the past, a family still to attend or a family considering attending our classes in the future.Pre-booking is essential though.

What will happen on the day?

We will all meet on the South Side of the lake. You will need to walk towards the far side of the lake to find our red gazebo. Please bring your ticket stub (if purchased in class) or receipt (if purchased on-line) to our gazebo to collect your goody filled lunch bag and any other pre-ordered items. Once you have collected your items, you will be free to enjoy your picnic with your family and teddies while our life-size Tuneful Ted circulates to greet everyone. There will be some free play instruments available for children to explore (similar to those found in your normal classes) and craft activities to make your own instruments. You may also find time to explore the bubbles and frisbee contained inside the lunch bag. Dependent on parent musician volunteers, we also hope to have some busking providing background music for the event.

At 1:30 pm our parent instrumentalists will play three songs including Happy Birthday. Even if you don’t play a tuned instrument, please bring along some untuned percussion instruments for you and your children to participate. Once we have sung Happy Birthday to Tuneful Ted, you will be able to collect birthday cake and a Teddy Trail sheet to help you explore some of the other aspects of the park including the North Lake, Children’s Play Park, Outdoor Cafe, Boating Lake and Bouncy Castle.

How do I contribute to the flash mob and other musical entertainment?

If you can play an instrument (even to a basic level), we need your help. Please complete our form by clicking on this link to let us know which instrument you play and to what level. An Arranger is preparing simple harmonies of Teddy Bear’s Picnic, Twinkle and Happy Birthday especially for our event. Once we know which instruments our parents can play, we can organise for the appropriate arrangement to be emailed to you so that you can run through it in advance. If you are an advanced player, you may be willing to provide background music during the event or busk for Tuneful Ted. We would also like to encourage school aged children currently learning instruments to participate in the flash mob or busking.

Even if you don’t play a tuned instrument, you and your child can contribute to our flash mob with voice and untuned percussion instruments. Please bring them along with you.

What other help is needed?

We need a few volunteers for the day. Please let us know, using this link if you are available to offer some of your time on a rota offering first aid, dressing as Tuneful Ted meeting and greeting, marshalling or litter picking help.

What happens if it rains?

In case of rain, the event will be cancelled. Please check emails and Central Station Facebook before leaving in case we need to inform you of cancellation. If the event is cancelled due to poor weather, there will be no refund, but the items you ordered will be available for collection at your assigned local branch of The Music Train.

What should I bring with me?

  • A packed lunch and drinks for your party. Please be advised that goody filled lunch bags will not contain food items and the only refreshments provided by The Music Train will be birthday cake. There are refreshment stands in other areas of the park but not close by.
  • Your own teddy to enjoy the event with Tuneful Ted.
  • Picnic blanket or rug.
  • Push chairs or tricycles so that small legs can reach the site of the event and manage the trail easily.
  • Your ticket stub (if you purchased your event entry in class) or a print out of your receipt (if you purchased on-line). You will need these in order to collect your goody bag lunch box and extra items on the day.
  • £3.20 in cash or a mobile phone to pay for parking. (Although the venue has 500 parking places, if the weather is sunny, spaces may be limited and we cannot guarantee parking. It might be useful to research other possible places nearby where you can park. If South Lake Parking is full, it may be possible to park on the North Side and walk across to the South Side. You will need to allow a little extra time to do this. The venue is approximately 30 minutes walk away from the railway station.
  • Your musical instruments (if you play). Please make sure you have completed our form (linked to above) to tell us what you will bring with you.
  • Percussion instruments or you may prefer to use the shakers or guiros available to make at the event itself.
  • Cash in case you decide to purchase teas, coffees, ice creams, face painting, bouncy castle or boating lake entry.

Family says goodbye after a record-breaking 12 years

'', ''

Families tend to stay with The Music Train for a long time. In a recent survey, 10% of families said they had been coming to classes without a break for more than 5 years and 25% for more than 3. However, today was a particularly momentous day in The Music Train calendar as today we said goodbye to a gorgeous family after more than 12 years attendance!

When asked why they had come along for so long, mummy said that "The Music Train covered everything" With our syllabus constantly being refreshed and updated according to the latest research, we have found that parents are not bored - even after 12 years. Our mummy also praised the teaching of our lovely Hayley Ayres, who has been their teacher for the final year with us.

As you might expect, the day was marked by the eating of much chocolate cake. Andrea Lee also popped in to say a special goodbye and reminisced about the time she taught the older children. Just before leaving, our young leaver treated us to a lively and dramatic rendition of a 'Frozen' song. This family will be sorely missed.

Mamma Mia lead role played by early pupil

'', ''

When we heard that Emily Dunn, one of our first ever pupils, was playing Sophie in Mamma Mia we were very excited. A night out in the West End watching an ex-pupil seemed a fitting way to celebrate The Music Train's 18th birthday. It felt very emotional thinking back to the three year old who loved to dance around the room and seeing her now in a dream role on the West End. A fantastic night was had by all.

Rachel Wright joins us in Bude

'', ''

We are delighted to welcome Rachel Wright to our team of teachers. With a background in Early Years and a love of music, Rachel will be taking over this area in September when Hayley returns to teach with us in Herts. They say you wait all day for a bus and then they all come at once. This was certainly the case with finding a replacement teacher for Bude. At one point, we thought we were going to have to close the branch. We are very grateful to our keen parents who did not want to give up their classes. Once they put the word out we had several teachers in the running. We are very pleased with our choice and know our Bude parents are going to love Rachel too.

‘Outstanding Activity Leader’ Finalist

'', ''

Andrea Lee, Letchworth Teacher and Founder of The Music Train, was recently nominated by parents for the What's On 4 Little Ones Award for Outstanding Activity Leader (East). We were delighted to learn this week that she has now been selected as a Finalist. Awards will be presented later this month.

Meeting ‘Playsongs’ Vocalist

'', ''
SandraKerr2 copy

Music Train parents are very familiar with 'Playsongs' CD and book, and today Andrea Lee was privileged to hear several of these songs sung live by the female vocalist Sandra Kerr at a training day held in Gateshead. Songs sung in the training workshop included Pop Pop Pop go the Poppers, Dabbling Ducks and many others with which we are so familiar at The Music Train.

Sandra is well known as a co-writer of the music for the much loved children's programme Bagpuss. She was also the voice behind one of the Bagpuss characters, Madeleine Remnant, the ragdoll and some of the mice. Sandra is currently highly sought after for teacher training workshops and is a Lecturer at Newcastle University.

Listen to our talented ex Student live on Radio 2

'', ''

One of our earliest pupil's, Emily Dunn is still enjoying music 16 years on, and with breathtaking talent has just performed live on Radio 2.

Andrea Lee used to teach Emily back in 1996, and occasionally babysat her. She had not seen her for some years and was blown away when she came across her again in a local pantomime. Emily was not playing the main part, but her dancing, acting and singing ability set her apart as a real star in the making. Being intrigued, and not recognising her, Andrea looked her up in the programme; she was surprised and delighted to discover that this talented actress was in fact Emily, who she had known so well in her early years.

Now, further along her journey Emily is coming to the end of her studies at the Arts Educational School in London and was been chosen to sing both a solo and a duet on Radio 2 on 19th October 2012. Emily's duet performance is at around 36 minutes into the programme and her solo performance is at 1 hr 25. They are absolutely beautiful so do have a listen by clicking here.

"It is exciting to remember a little girl who was always singing and dancing in her early years, and also to see where the combination of that talent and the commitment of herself and her parents have brought her" said Andrea. "I hope reading about Emily will inspire our current Music Train families".

Emily's family have kindly allowed us to post an amateur video of Emily singing so that you can enjoy watching her sing one of the songs she sang on Radio 2.

Life after Music Train

'', ''

We were delighted to receive this email yesterday:

I am sitting here watching the proms and I suddenly thought of The Music Train! I wanted to email and let you know how Ben has been getting on as I hope it will inspire your new Music Train parents! If you remember Ben used to sit at the side a lot in lessons and could be quite shy. However when he started school, being the oldest in the year he was given the main part in the Christmas concerts. He had to dance and sing and you would not think it was the same child. At the age of 6 we bought him a cheap keyboard, which after four weeks he was so good at playing, we had to get him a yamaha keyboard instead. He started piano lessons in April and his teacher says he is better than some of the 10 year olds he teaches and is picking things up amazingly quickly. He was helped of course by reciting Catty C Doggy D Elephant E etc which his piano teacher had no clue about to start with!! We are hoping he will take his grade 1 next year as he has just turned 7.

His elder brother Thomas had violin grade 1 and when he went to fiddle fiesta was very proud to be a second violin! (He went to Music Train in Luton!) I have also got in on the act and am trying to learn the saxaphone !! Anyway I will stop now but I just wanted you to know how things had gone and how grateful I am to you for all your efforts in previous years, as it is certainly making a difference now and I am a really proud mum when I see them play!

Best wishes

Paula Brown Ben and Thomas

Early Music Train pupil performs in the Proms

'', ''

One of our early students, Rotimi Osindero performed clarinet with National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain at the BBC Proms which was aired August 2012. The performance is now on BBC iPlayer.

A little music training goes a long way!

'', ''

This article will reassure many parents who are concerned that their children take up instruments for a few years only to give up soon after. Isn't it a waste of time and money? Apparently not, according to this research. Even a short time of practising an instrument during childhood can improve the adult brain.