by Rhiane Kirkby
Are you a stay-at-home parent or carer who loves exercising your vocal chords? And doing so to something other than ‘The Wheels on the Bus’ and ‘Twinkle Twinkle?’ If the answer’s ‘yes’ and you live in or around Islington, then BYO Baby may be the perfect activity for you. As the name suggests, this is a choir with a difference—it’s one that comes complete with a backing track of tantrumming toddlers and bawling babies—but that all adds to its charm.
Set up by Anna Shields and Emily Garsin, founders of Starling Arts, BYO Baby has been running once a month since the start of the year and is proving so popular that from September there’ll be two sessions to choose from. The first (from 1:15 to 2:15pm) is recommended for those with toddlers on the move and the later session (from 3 to 4pm) for those with babes in arms. They’re both held at Lucky Voice in Islington, which has a spacious bar area and the added advantage of serving alcohol—should you need some Dutch courage to get you started!
“We’re very relaxed and informal,” explains Anna. “There’s no audition process and everyone is welcome, no matter what their ability or experience. You won’t be forced to join in—or to sing alone. It really is just about having fun and meeting new people.” The choir ‘performs’ around ten songs a session and these are very much suited to the adults in the room, although “we love a bit of Disney,” admits Anna, “and we do try to do some songs with actions to keep the little ones entertained. They also get free rein of the props and dressing-up box, which tends to keep them—and us—amused!”
“I leave rejuvenated and with an exhausted toddler; that’s a win-win in my book,” says Kirsty, adding that it’s “definitely worth a visit for any parent who needs an escape from baby groups.” Sara agrees: “I get to have fun and let loose with like-minded mums and dads in a relaxed, child-friendly setting, while my son enjoys music, dancing and Mummy’s best Whitney impression!”
Anna and Emily claim theirs is a parent-baby activity that’s scientifically proven to make you happier, healthier and more connected—surely a good enough reason to engage in some self-indulgent fun?
To buy tickets (£8 in advance) for the next session on Thursday 29th September, or for more information, go to Starling Arts’ website.