Monty the Maestro and his Marvellous Magical Orchestra was founded by composer, children’s author and music educator, Gabrielle Amelia Ridgeon in 2015.
Our musical storybook series and specialist Making Music with Monty classes allow you and your children to learn about music in a fun and creative way. Our books are the perfect introduction to the orchestra. Reading the colourful picture books teaches children what the musical instruments look like. The individual stories give children an understanding of how the instruments work and our audiobooks demonstrate what they sound like individually and all together.
Children will be entertained by the humorous plots, amused by the narrator’s character voices and captivated by the stunning illustrations and musical soundtrack. Altogether, a truly multi-sensory experience. This enchanting series is the ideal tool to expose children to the variety of wonderful instruments on offer and is an engaging way to help them decide which instrument they really want to play.
We run Making Music with Monty classes after school and during the school holidays. Our specialist music classes teach children all the skills they need before they start to learn a musical instrument. The magical stories of Monty the Maestro, instantly engage children so they can enjoy learning music from the very beginning. Classes focus on musical creativity. Children are encouraged to interact and experiment, while they explore their imaginations to the fullest. Once the children reach the end of their Monty classes, they will be fully prepared and eager to start learning to play.
Gabrielle Amelia Ridgeon is the creator and author of the Monty the Maestro and his Marvellous Magical Orchestra series. A composer, author and creative arts specialist, Gabrielle is passionate about engaging young children with the creative arts through storytelling.
Gabrielle’s own introduction to music was aged 5, learning the piano. A huge advocate of how storytelling should be at the forefront of a child’s first creative arts experience, Gabrielle runs Making Music with Monty classes for children aged 9 months to 7 years. Gabrielle’s classes are so highly regarded by parents and teachers that she is now trains staff within Early Years settings and runs workshops for parents and families. Gabrielle’s educational experience also includes working with schools, international summer schools, outreach projects and specialist academies.
Creatively, Gabrielle is a composer, orchestrator, pianist and musical director. She studied at the Royal College of Music for her MA in Composition. Her creative portfolio includes concert hall works, scores for animations, audiobooks, award-winning documentaries, and films. Gabrielle has worked as an orchestrator and copyist for a number of critically acclaimed composers and musical directors, collaborating on feature-length films, award-winning musicals and the Queen’s Jubilee Concert. Gabrielle has arranged works for numerous orchestral musicians, professional ensembles and music teachers.
Charlotte Gallagher is delighted to be a part of Monty the Maestro and his Magical Marvellous Orchestra. She is currently working with poet Kimberly Campanello on The Con|Eva Project, a work commemorating The Easter Rising (London Irish Centre). Theatre includes: The Judas Kiss (West End); Medea (Riverside Studios); The Tragedie of Cleopatra (UCL). Film and TV includes: Captain Webb (Marathon Films); Love Me Till Monday (Hardy Pictures); Jesus Decoded (National Geographic).
Charlotte’s solo show, Carlotta De Galleon – A Fool For Love, about love and romance novels was part of the 2015 Camden Fringe Festival.
Kate Slater is a freelance illustrator, author and designer-maker. She works in collage, sometimes using this to create suspended, relief illustrations. These 3-dimensional collages often look a bit like tiny, chaotic paper theatre sets which Kate photographs to produce the ﬁnal image.
While Kate mostly illustrates children’s books and magazines she has also produced work for all sorts of clients, including advertising and editorial, and has a growing business creating her own range of stationery, wrapping paper and homeware.
Booking for our specialist music classes is now open! Click here to register.
Booking for our new classes will open on this Sunday (27th January) at 9pm. Our first batch of classes will take place in Bradford on Avon and Bath. We have limited spaces available so make sure you contact us if you would like a place.
This blog is an area designed especially for parents and teachers. It’s a place you can visit for more information on the content covered within the Monty series and where we hope you will find the answers to questions you may have regarding your children and their musical education.
In our regular blog updates we will cover a range of topics however if you would like us to cover something specific then please email and we’ll do our best to include these in our posts.
Want to know where to take the children this summer holiday? Short of fun and engaging ideas? Look no further! Monty has put together a special guide of his favourite musical must-sees especially for you.
This year the BBC Proms programme has featured some fabulous music for children, however, sadly most of the family concerts were scheduled in July before the schools finished. But if you are looking to introduce your children to classical music, the Proms is a fantastic way to begin – so here are the links to Monty’s favourite parts of the programme:
Each of the links includes a tracklist where you can see what pieces of music are performed and you can be directed to listen to them on Spotify or Apple Music. This is a really useful resource if your child wants to listen to a particular piece over and over again (and you’re not sure what it’s called or where to find it!)
Classical for Kids is offering children the opportunity to hear some string instruments perform at the Royal Albert Hall on Saturday 17th August. There are two performances (morning and afternoon) and buggies and babies are welcome. For more information check out Sensational Strings.
Music for Miniatures brings A Musical Zoo to the West on their summer tour. These run throughout August at various family-friendly halls. Children can even bring their favourite cuddly animals along to the concert too!
Tales of the Turntable at the Southbank Centre is a dance and music show based around Back to the Future and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Featuring hip-hop, funk, disco, house, rap and soul, this piece of theatre will take the whole family on a trip through musical history.
Monty will be posting more family-friendly events for the Autumn soon!
I wish I had kept count of the number of times a pupil has looked at me with a perplexed expression when I ask them if they’re aware the violin and viola are two entirely different musical instruments.
I have often found myself bigging up the violin’s larger string sibling, but I secretly enjoy every second of it because there is plenty to shout about! So why can most young children (aged 4-7) inform me so confidently about the violin, yet know absolutely nothing about the viola? It seems that it all stems from school.
Children are encouraged to learn the violin (over the viola) because it’s the smallest of the string instruments and makes it the most popular choice for smaller beginners. Its prominent position within the orchestra also means that children spot it quickly and take a shining to it.
But because the viola is so similar physically to the violin, children often mistake it for a large violin rather than an entirely different musical instrument and they think the cello is next in line in the string family.
This isn’t being helped by a situation in schools, where some music services only offer children music tuition on the cello as an alternative to the violin. So for those who may have been interested in the viola, it’s not an option for them to learn it in school anyway – they have the choice between the violin or the cello. It is worth mentioning that this is happening with the woodwind family too (flute and clarinet being positioned over the oboe and bassoon) however this makes a little more sense, as the oboe and bassoon are notably more expensive instruments to purchase or loan.
In our music classes this year we’ve played a wide variety of musical games to help develop the children’s’ listening and aural skills. Within the first term, the youngest of our children (age 4) can confidently listen to pieces of music where the violin, viola, cello and double bass perform together and distinguish which instrument is which, from listening to their sound alone. They love describing what each instrument sounds like and defining how they differ from one another.
While half of the room adore the sound of the violin and its virtuosic melodies, the other half of the room get just as excited by the deeper resonance that the viola makes. Just like the instruments, every child is different and they know what they like and what they don’t – especially at four years old!
Given the choice in school, half of those children would choose to learn the viola over the violin but with no introduction to it, they are none the wiser and deprived of the opportunity. Each of the string family has its own unique story to tell and it’s important that in school young children get the opportunity to learn about all of them.