When I was a new mom, I took mommy and me yoga, attended new mom’s groups and was always on the look out for interesting activities that I could do with my baby. But nothing like what I saw last week was offered.
I saw a group of new parents taking a trial class at where they learned to play songs on the ukulele for their kids, while their new babies watched. I was instantly intrigued.
In the first few months of motherhood, my brain was quickly atrophying. Between lack of sleep and the constant feedings, I would have loved to learn a new instrument to play for my baby, especially one that is so small and easily stored in a Brooklyn apartment.
The class was created by Park Slope native Amelia Robinson, who also runs Mil’s Trills, a popular music series for kids. Robinson plays ukulele and incorporates storytelling into her weekly drop in shows that she holds all over Brooklyn. Robison started Mil’s Trills after returning to Brooklyn, having worked for five months as a street performer in Qatar and touring Europe. Robinson’s sister, who had just had a baby, invited her to play ukulele for a meet-up group of ten new parents. The shows drew a lot of attention and within three months she was running five shows a week for over 200 families.
But the workshops are something new.
“A lot of parents approached me saying that they had a ukulele lying around but never learned how to play," said Robinson. "I thought it would be a fun idea to develop a way to teach new parents, who are always looking for mentally-stimulating things to do with their kids.”
Robinson also teaches parents how to write their own lullabies in the classes, which helps to spark creativity.
“The most important aspect of the Ukulele Workshops are to engage the parent's mind and give them the tools to be creative with their child," she said.
"I've heard about mommy-brain!” she added.
According to Robinson, the class is also ideal for the expectant parent.
“There are numerous studies promoting the exposure of babies in the womb to music, and as a small and accessible instrument, the ukulele is a beautiful way for parents to connect to their developing child.”
If have older babies and toddlers, you can still enjoy Robinson’s weekly shows. Each performance features a rotating cast of guests who play with her at the concerts, and the shows are held at edgy Brooklyn venues like the and . See the calendar here.
On Saturday July 30, Mil’s Trills hosts a summer bash at . From middle eastern drummers to vocalists, the show will incorporate various neighborhood musicians from the Mil’s Trills community. At the end of the show, kids will be invited on the stage to sing and play instruments.
After meeting with Robinson, I was inspired to take up the ukulele - even though I’m certainly past the new mom stage and my kids are too old for the Mil’s Trills shows.
I realized that I wasn’t too old to introduce new instruments and songs into my life. It's never too late!