Monty the Maestro and his Marvellous Magical Orchestra is a series that enables you and your children to get to know the musical instruments of the orchestra in a fun and fantastical way. By reading the colourful picture books with the accompanying audiobooks your children will learn what the musical instruments look like, understand how the instruments work and discover what they sound like individually and all together.
While absorbing this information, children will be entertained by the humorous plots, amused by the narrator’s character voices, stimulated visually by the stunning illustrations and be captivated by the musical soundtrack. All together this creates a thoroughly sensory experience.
For a child wanting to learn a musical instrument it is a very exciting time, but often deciding which musical instrument to play is made for the wrong reasons. Above all else, there should be one main consideration when making this decision and that is whether the child loves the sound of their chosen instrument. This enchanting series is the ideal tool to expose children to the wide variety of wonderful instruments on offer and is an engaging way to help them decide which instrument they really want to play.
Gabrielle Amelia Ridgeon is the creator and director of Monty the Maestro and his Marvellous Magical Orchestra. Gabrielle’s passion for wanting to engage young children in music comes from wonderful memories of her own musical upbringing.
Gabrielle’s introduction to music started by learning the piano at the age of 5. Although the piano remained her favourite instrument, at the age of 9 her school gave Gabrielle the opportunity to start the flute. However, by the time she turned 11, Gabrielle had swapped it for the bassoon and later that year Gabrielle was awarded a place to study at the Royal College of Music Junior Department in London. Here she experienced the orchestra first hand every week, and the rest was history!
At fifteen, Gabrielle had started to write her own music and by eighteen she moved to London to study for a degree in music and was regularly performing at prestigious music venues on piano, bassoon, and voice. Three years later, Gabrielle was awarded a scholarship to study for a masters degree in film music composition at the Royal College of Music.
Gabrielle has gone on to compose concert hall works (including pieces performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra & Southbank Sinfonia), original 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 for feature-length films, award-winning musicals as well as the Queen’s Jubilee Concert. Gabrielle is also an arranger and has created a large number of arrangments for orchestral musicians, professional ensembles and music teachers.
Aside from her compositional work, Gabrielle is passionate about music education and engaging children with music. Gabrielle is the creator of Monty the Maestro and his Marvellous Magical Orchestra, where she is director of the company and author and composer of the series. Gabrielle writes the picture books, audiobooks, and online content, as well as running Making Music with Monty classes, workshops and book signings across the country including literary festivals and libraries.
As a music educator, Gabrielle has a wealth of experience teaching piano, composition, and general musicianship to students of all ages and at a variety of levels. This includes teaching in schools, at home as well as running international summer schools, outreach projects and weekend academies for schools and music venues.
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.
To meet the demand from young maestros and their families we have opened up another class this term. Making Music with Monty is now running two evenings each week and we’ve had a very productive start to our second term already.
Every week each class is broken down into four parts: listening, analysis, performance (vocally, clapping and instrumentally) as well as creating original music. While we build on these skills each week, we are simultaneously developing their musical knowledge and understanding of rhythm and pitch.
Classes draw from Kodaly and Dalcroze to create a playful and experimental approach to learning. This means that musical fundamentals such as the theory of music are introduced to the children nice and subtly (usually through gameplay) and by week three, children as young as four are singing and clapping rhythms with confidence and exploring their sol-fa and time signatures with ease. And what’s more – it doesn’t feel like a lesson because the children are having so much fun. Want to know more?
Email us for more information or for tips and tricks on how to entice your little ones into music!
Making Music with Monty classes are the perfect way to introduce your child to music. Captivating and fun, these classes teach children all the musical skills they need before they start to learn a musical instrument.
By introducing music through storytelling and the magical world of Monty the Maestro and his Marvellous Magical Orchestra, children are given the opportunity to explore new musical concepts and will be instantly engaged.
Each week Monty takes the children on a music-making adventure and prepares them with everything they need to know along the way. With the focus of the classes being around musical creativity, children are encouraged to interact, excited to participate, eager to experiment and enjoy exploring their imaginations to the fullest.
Once they reach the end of their classes each child will really be raring and ready to go on to the next chapter of their musical journey!
Classes run after school and are for children aged 4-7. Please register here for more information.
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.