AN unusual day nursery has been launched to help give children the skills they need to reach their full musical potential.

Jane Todd, a mum-of-one with a doctorate in music, has launched Do Re Mi Day Nursery and accompanying Do Re Mi Musical Learning classes in Durham City with the aim of helping children develop a love and understanding of music.

Jane, 32, a teacher at Teesside High Prep School, will open the nursery on the Meadowfield Industrial Estate, near January and has won an Arts Council grant towards some of the weekly music classes.

The classes, which have already started, range from babies still in the womb up to the ages of seven years old.

Jane said: "We want to help young people reach their full musical potential, whether that's being able to sing in tune or play for the London Philharmonic Orchestra when they're older.

"The idea of bringing music into their lives from the womb onwards is so they can naturally progress in a very nurturing environment. Above all, it's about teaching them in a fun way rather than making it like an academic exercise.

"It's not about memorising musical terms which don't mean anything to children or spending hours learning about dead composers."

Jane has set up her business with the support of Durham Creatives, a free programme of mentorship, practical workshops and support for those who want to set up creative businesses.

Jane, who also taught music at Barnard Castle Prep School, has an eight month old son, Reuben, and felt there was a need to set up a new type of day nursery after researching the work of Zoltan Kodaly, the Hungarian music educator.

Kodaly believed music was part of human nature and that, with the right input, anyone could become musically literate. Jane saw the effects of his methods on her own pupils.

"We've had children singing in monotone voices at six because they can't hear the pitching, only to sing beautifully in concerts when they're older because they've had the right foundations to take their musical learning to the next level," said Jane.

"Kodaly also believed that the right time to start music education was not only nine months before the birth of a child, but 'nine months before the birth of the mother'. Our musical journey starts with do re mi bumps, a pre-birth class for expectant mothers and then offers tailored classes for each stage as the children progress."

The weekly music classes are from 45 minutes to an hour long, however the children within the nursery setting will receive the teaching in shorter bursts, 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the afternoon. There will also be other musical activities led by nursery staff including singing, dancing, music and movement, musical playtime, using instruments in free play, creating sounds, as well as non musical activities such as art and crafts and growing vegetables.

Jane will be holding a Do Re Mi Day Nursery open day on Saturday November 16 from 10am to 1pm.

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