Wee-Arts offers music programs for kids, caregivers with Irish flare
Posted February 22, 2015
Michelle Schooff has spent decades writing and performing music. And now, with her own three young children as her muses, she's struck out on her own to offer music programs for kids and their caregivers.
Wee-Arts, offered at University Mall in Chapel Hill, opened in the fall after Schooff and her partner Rosario Vila shut down My SweetArts, which blended both music and arts and crafts for young children for several years in Chapel Hill.
Schooff hopes that her space at University Mall will not only be home to her Wee-Arts music programs, but to other small businesses that offer programs for children and parents - from sports, dance or yoga programs to parenting or breastfeeding sessisons.
"I'm sure there are a million things out there that people are doing," Schooff said. "... I'm completely open. I would love this to be a great space for moms and dads."
Schooff's Wee-Arts programs are designed for babies to six-year-olds. The classes run 45 minutes each and run in six-week sessions. Her first winter session was so popular it filled up quickly. Schooff also plans camp programs for young children, especially on days when many local preschools are closed.
Schooff holds degrees in music, art and drama and spent a dozen years working in the music industry in London before becoming a stay-at-home mom. For the last six years, she's been writing fun and original kids songs. She's also the music teacher at two preschools in Chapel Hill.
Her three children are in kindergarten or preschool. Her music is inspired by them and sometimes even written along with them. Her roots in Ireland, where she is from, often inspire her music's sound. And her Irish voice is absolutely beautiful.
"It's all original," she said. "It's all acoustic. I think kids make a bigger connection with music when it's not recorded."
Her sessions include a mix of song, dance and movement. She led kids and their moms or caregivers through songs that had them tickling, laughing, shaking bells, lifting a parachute and beating drums. She played along with a guitar and ukulele. The kids were engaged. The moms were smiling.
While kids and their parents might pick up a few musical fundamentals during her programs, Wee-Arts is really all about parents and kids reconnecting, meeting other people and enjoying music together.
"It's embracing kids, their energy and knowing that they are all different," Schooff said.
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