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Churches join mainly music crusade

By Marie Sherry

The ‘mainly music’ movement is taking off across New Zealand and Australia, with churches, mothers and young children all getting a lot out of their involvement.

A programme for preschoolers and their caregivers, mainly music was formed about 15 years ago by Auckland mum Jo Hood, who wanted to form a group for mothers and small children.

The sessions are held in churches and involve songs and music for preschoolers and their parents.

New Zealand manager Judi Williams says word of mouth has spread fast and today there are about 435 mainly music groups throughout New Zealand, with a further 100 in Australia and several more in England and America. Jo relocated to Australia last year to raise the profile of mainly music across the Tasman.

“In New Zealand the number of groups is growing. We have applications every week from churches that want to get it up and going. We see it as an outreach programme through the churches,” says Judi.

The programmes offer value to mothers, who get the chance to meet other mothers with young children. Children benefit from the music and movement, which helps prepare them for school and develop their motor skills and counting skills.

“We’re hoping mainly music will become worldwide. The amount of interest coming from England this year has been amazing. Word is getting around.”

Mainly music is proving extremely popular at the Devonport Methodist Church, which has established a second weekly session to cope with demand.

Rev Robyn Allen Goudge says both young children and their mothers or caregivers get a lot out of the music, rhythm, and rhyme. The format of each session involves half an hour of music and songs, followed by morning tea.

“The music and songs are very lively. The mainly music organisation has done a lot of research on songs and music that are appropriate for preschoolers. We have a programme of about 12 songs. Within that we have two songs that have some sort of Christian content,” Robyn says.

“We do some traditional nursery rhymes and some New Zealand songs. In some songs they work their gross motor skills with big movements and others their fine motor skills with their fingers. It also helps build up a bond with the mother or caregiver.”

The children and their mothers sit on mats and cushions during the programme.

“We play the CD and project the words up onto the screen. We sing and dance and do all the actions and have a lot of fun. The parents have to be involved as well,” says Robyn.

The Devonport Methodist Church charges a small fee of $3 per session to cover their morning tea costs. A team of six organises and leads the sessions.

“The kids love it and the parents love it because all they have to do is turn up. We give them morning tea and they get to play and have fun with their children in a stress-free environment. They get to meet others with children at the same stage.”

Robyn started with a small group of about a dozen children. Word spread and the numbers grew to 50 children. She had to close the roll and last month added a second weekly session.

She says because it’s a programme that can only be run by a church, it’s a lovely way for a church to make friends with young families in their community. And it helps children’s physical and mental development.