Holger Mauthe has a way with instruments and kids get it

The Mount Royal Conservatory is famous for its high quality music and speech arts instruction, but amidst the hundreds of students who pass through the Conservatory doors each day lies a well-kept secret.

It's the Early Childhood Program, a treasure trove of music, speech and movement programs just for kids.

For many children, music class with Holger Mauthe is the highlight of their week.
Conservatory instructor, Holger Mauthe has trained all over the world and has brought that wealth of knowledge and talent to MR's Conservatory.

"I sometimes feel like a rock star for toddlers," says the early childhood music teacher, who was recently featured in a book by bestselling Canadian writer, Rebecca Eckler.

In Toddlers Gone Wild!, published earlier this year, Eckler recounts the day-to-day surprises involved in raising a toddler - including discovering her daughter's infatuation with her Music with Your Baby instructor - Mauthe.

"She (Eckler) didn't think I would be her little girl's type," Mauthe says, laughing.

The Program will be hosting an information evening, May 13 at 7:30 p.m. in the Lincoln Park Room so parents can discover the wealth of offerings available. Short presentations from the Early Childhood Strings, Kodaly Musicianship, Music and Movement, Orff Music Classes, Speech Arts, Suzuki Piano, and Music with your Baby programs, followed by a question period.

Being the object of puppy love is not quite what he expected when he first joined the Conservatory a few years ago, but Mauthe is proud of the impact he has had on his students.

"I had never taught babies before and never would have expected to like it as much as I do," he says. "The joy they show in music class is amazing."

Besides teaching Music with Your Baby and Music and Movement classes, Mauthe - who trained at the Orff Institute in Salzburg, Austria - also started the Orff Music program at the Conservatory two years ago.

"The Orff philosophy has been around since the 1930s, and it focuses on teaching music in a creative and holistic way," says Mauthe, adding that the program currently serves 40 students, four to seven-years-old. "In classes, we do a lot of movement, dancing and singing."

Then there's the Orff Instrumentarium, Mauthe explains, which introduces students to percussion instruments like xylophones, bells and drums that are easy to play and create a satisfying experience.

"The children don't just reproduce music from others - they are also engaged in the creative process," he adds. "We'll start with a traditional song and then add our own verses with the ideas of the children, which gives them the feeling of creating something."

Mauthe says the Orff Music program provides a good complement to the well-established Kodály program at Mount Royal because it meets different needs.

"For those parents who want their children to learn an instrument quickly, Kodály is more efficient. But for those who just want their kids to have fun and enjoy music, Orff offers that playful experience."

For more information, please call the Conservatory at 6821.

- Teresa Wong, May 7, 2009