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Made by Mom (and Dad!) Gift Guide: Notasium for music-based play, lessons

Notasium, the music-based play space and music lesson provider, is featured in our annual gift guide, presented by Midwifery at Women's Health Alliance.

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Sarah Lindenfeld Hall
With four months of operation under their belts, Triangle dads Stephen Norman-Scott and Preston Clarke have been working out the kinks, busy with birthday parties and teaching a lot of ukulele at Notasium.
Clarke and Norman-Scott opened the music-based play space and center for group and individual music lessons back in August. A successful Kickstarter online fundraising campaign and other investors helped the business partners raise the money needed to open. Notasium is featured in this year's Made by Mom (and Dad) Gift Guide, presented by Midwifery at Women's Health Alliance.

The Durham spot offers an indoor, music-themed play area for kids at the front of the building off Durham-Chapel Hill Boulevard. In the back, there are lots of rooms for the lessons.

In the play area, Norman-Scott and Clarke have figured out what works and what's needed some adjustments. The No. 1 feature is the giant guitar slide where kids can climb up the frets of a guitar, playing notes along the way. They make more sounds as they slide down. Also popular: Inflatables shaped like drums and karaoke rooms where kids can belt out their favorite songs.

Notasium's birthday party business also is booming. It's grown so much that Notasium now is open on Sundays to the general public because Saturdays were so busy with birthday parties.

They've also added music classes and programs based on customer demand. Ukulele is big. The small string instrument, Clarke said, is perfect for young children who are too small for a standard guitar. Even some parents and grandparents are joining in on lessons. Both group and individual ukulele lessons are offered.

"Kids take to it much quicker than a guitar," Clarke said.

Also popular: weekly Notes-For-Tots classes for toddlers and their adults; Junior Notemakers for preschoolers; and Notemakers for five and six-year-olds. The classes provide a fun and educational introduction to music for young kids.

For kids who are trying to figure out what instrument they might be interested in, there's the Petting Zoo, a 30-minute lesson where kids can check out a bunch of instruments - from violin to trombone to piano to drums. And, this winter, Notasium is launching a new group class for singers, ages 5 to 8, called Note Singers.

It's been a very busy fall for Clarke and Norman-Scott, a bit stressful at times for each of their families.

"We both understand that you're figuring out stuff as you go," Clarke said.

But they tell me they love seeing the smiles on the kids faces as they play or master a new song. Amidst their work to fine tune Notasium, they're getting requests from other parents across the Triangle and beyond for a Notasium in their neighborhoods too.

Notasium is open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., weekdays, and noon to 5 p.m., Sundays. It's open sometimes on Saturdays depending on the birthday party schedule. Notasium also offers camps and drop-off programs. Its website has all the information.

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