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New music course for expat kids
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A local children's education center in Shenzhen will begin to offer Kindermusik, a popular Western music course from this Saturday.

The California Kids Club, on the Riviera housing estate, says the 3,000-yuan (US$396) 15-session program is the first to be offered in Shenzhen.

Taught purely in English by Valerie Johnson, a licensed Kindermusik educator from the United States, the course is aimed mainly at expat children or those whose parents speak fluent English.

"We offer two courses, one for babies to 4.5 year old children, and the other for children aged between 4.5 and 7," said Yang Fan, the club manager.

Each class will have 10 places and most have already been reserved despite the cost.

"In a Kindermusik class, the teacher leads a group of parents and their children through joyful activities, using music and movement. Parents learn more about their child’s unique developmental process, and the shared learning experience creates a unique bond as the child associates learning with fun and musical play," Johnson said.

Yang decided to introduce the course in Shenzhen because she found many domestic music courses either did not teach enough music or taught children but did not offer them fun.

"Every child is gifted. What we do is to foster their interest in learning and not to choke their gift by forcing them to learn," she said.

The older children will be given a set of six to seven music instruments like drums and a glockenspiel to play. The basics of music theory will be taught via games during the one-hour session. The younger ones will attend a 45-minute course accompanied by their parents, who will learn to teach and play with their children back at home.

"So far, the course is taught in English. But in fact, Chinese parents need such education more, as I've often seen young mothers totally entrust their kids to nannies and rather than spend enough of their own time with them," she said.

An average private kindergarten in Shenzhen charges around 1,500 yuan per month, covering teaching, a meal and sometimes transport. Music classes often involve singing and dancing, accompanied by a teacher playing the piano.

Many parents also send their children, from the age of 4.5, to formal piano courses, which charge between 100 and 150 yuan for 45 minutes.

(Shenzhen Daily October 11, 2007)

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