Lianne Vreugdenhil teaches ‘Lap Music’ (Muziek op Schoot)

Lianne Vreugdenhil (N X aj.1)
Photo: Lianne Vreugdenhil

Interview with Lianne.
What is ‘Lap Music’?
It teaches music to very young children, aged 4 months to 4 years alongside a parent or guardian. When the parent or guardian joins in everything, the children will copy them. For me as a teach it’s a form of art to not only give them space, but to take them along this musical journey.

Was your childhood filled with music?
Yes, I started playing the recorder at 7 years old, switching to clarinet two years later, playing for local orchestra the Maaslandse Harmonie. At some point I attended practice three times a week: twice for the youth orchestra and once for the ‘big’ orchestra, which allowed me to join relatively quick. I was taught by a clarinetist who became a colleague and I also sang at a children’s choir. I’ve always played music and sang.

How did you come up with the idea to do the teacher training for ‘Lap Music’?
I’ve worked as a clarinet-teacher for the Artistic Education Foundation in Rotterdam for years. At the start I was very specialized by only teaching the clarinet, but, sadly, through the years the number of students dropped, especially those for woodwind instruments like the clarinet. Many of the teacher, either with or without additional training, moved to teach in primary education, I wasn’t entirely happy doing that. I also worked at after school care for a while. I was often tasked to take care of the toddlers and I truly loved it! That experience, as well as my drive to expand my capabilities within music education, brought me to Muziek op Schoot (‘Lap Music’). Now I’m more versatile for the music school and regularly work with toddlers in primary education. I also have my own company: Muziek op Schoot Schoonhoven, and I teach ‘Lap Music’ in Krimpen aan de Lek. The training was tough, but very interesting and fun. It’s an art in itself working with such young children. They’re their own little people and that takes a special approach.

Do you have children and did you take them to ‘Lap Music’?
I have two sons (27 and 25). I didn’t take them to ‘Lap Music’ but they’ve done alright with regards to music. Together they’ve been in the band Still Blue for a few years now, the eldest plays guitar, the youngest the drums. It’s amazing to see how much creativity they can put into it. I can’t remember if I sang with them a lot, although I did often come up with new songs.

How does a lesson take shape?
Each lesson is build up of songs and recordings. I play on ukelele, clarinet, and recorder. With a hand puppet I start and end each lesson. The puppet ‘sings’ it’s way to every child and mentions the child’s name. That way they each get their own moment. We also sing well-known songs that are very interactive. Think of singing, clapping, movements, and words. A child will learn a lot and by doing it together with their parents it’s double fun. They also get to walk around and dance, and play on instruments suitable for their age. What I often do with the older children is to give them two shaker eggs each and put a large drum in the middle of the room. One by one they get to play the drum while the others shake the eggs and I play along on the clarinet. It’s very moving to see how each child has their own way of doing things: one will drum it up, while another takes a few minutes to get set, and a third will play very carefully. What I like most of all is how they look at me for guidance when they can start and how they hear when it stops again. We’re truly making music together.