About Us

Playsongs Plus had its beginnings in 1994 when Nickie was finding being a mum at home with young children quite isolating and decided to start a singing group for mums, babies and toddlers. Gill had recently returned from South Africa and was wanting to get to know people in the area.

Gill - Playsongs Plus

Gill - Playsongs Plus

‘We met at our local mothers and toddlers group, where Gill was playing the piano. She’s an amazing, inspirational and intuitive pianist, and I knew she’d be perfect for the singing group, so I asked her if she’d join me, and thankfully she said yes!’

Starting with just one class a week in Gill’s front room, in no time at all we had a waiting list of mothers wanting to join. Our very first group was for under 3s, and we called it Playsongs after the fabulous Playsongs Publications collection of songs for babies and toddlers, as well as a series of music books from the 1960s called Children’s Play-songs.

It has always been our aim to find songs that are a little bit different from those that are traditionally sung at mothers and toddlers groups and pre-schools. Another great source of inspiration has been 2 wonderful collections of children’s songs, Sing Through The Day and Sing Through The Seasons, from the Plough Publishing House.

Nickie - Playsongs Plus

Nickie - Playsongs Plus

Nickie is the creative visionary in our partnership. She has a real talent for finding uplifting songs and making them fun and accessible to both parents and children with puppets, props, sound effects and instruments.’

As our original group of children grew, and wanted to continue singing with us, we realised we would have to develop a programme for the 3s-5s, and so Quirky Quavers was born. And when they became 5 and still wanted more, we started Cool Crotchets!

Playsongs Plus - photo of babies with chime bars and bell carousel

Most recently we’ve added Baby Playsongs, a group specially for mums with tiny babies who need a more gentle time together without the more boisterous toddlers.

All of which means we now run up to 20 classes a week in various North Dorset towns. Click here for further information about the times and venues of classes.

Clearly we couldn’t continue to be known just as Playsongs, and so decided to call ourselves Playsongs Plus. To us, the Plus doesn’t just signify the additional groups. It also incorporates all the other things that Playsongs has come to mean to the many families who have sung with us over the years. Things like friendship, support, laughter and community. As one of our mums said, ‘ Playsongs has been my lifeline this year. It’s got me through some very difficult times. It’s the highlight of our week!’

Photo of child with lollipop drum

But that’s not all we do! Since the summer of 2006 we have been working with Artsreach to develop a fun and creative programme of training and support for rural pre-school playleaders who want to improve their music skills. So far 6 rural pre-schools in various parts of Dorset have taken part in this project, and the results have exceeded all expectations.

We’ve also had the opportunity to work with pre-schools and nurseries in Bournemouth and Poole as part of the Cultural Hub Early Years Artist in Residence Project.

It’s been such a joy and a privilege to be able to share our love of singing with so many other adults and children! For more information about our work with Early Years practitioners click here.

The opening of our local Childrens Centres (Blandford, Shaftesbury, Gillingham and Sturminster Newton) has provided a further opportunity to sing with young families, especially in the holidays when we take a break from our own regular classes. Click here to see if we are singing at a place near you!

Each year we look forward to the summer months and the opportunity to sing with families from further afield at various music festivals in the south, especially the Larmer Tree Festival (voted Best Family Festival 2008) and the Exmouth Festival (we love the Exmouth Shanty Men!). We can’t guarantee the weather, but we can promise lots of musical fun! Click here for more information about our work with festivals.

In February 2008, after many years of gentle but persistent nagging by our Playsongs mums, we finally got round to recording the haunting lullabies we sing at the end of each session. Hush-a-Bye, our first CD, is a collection of 18 traditional and contemporary lullabies, and is beautifully presented with stunning original artwork by local artist Louise Lobban, a former Playsongs mum! Click here for more information or to buy Hush-a-Bye.

Hush-A-Bye album front cover

We barely had time to pause for breath before people started asking when we were going to record our more lively songs. So we were soon back in the studio recording Rosie The Little Red Car, a collection of 18 of our favourite songs for under fives. Our Playsongs family gathered to celebrate Rosie’s long awaited arrival in June 09 with a wonderful party at Springhead. Click here for more information about Rosie The Little Red Car.

Rosie The Little Red Car front cover

Inevitably we couldn’t include everyone’s favourite songs on the Rosie CD, so we were soon being asked for a sequel. We launched our third album, Five Little Field Mice, in June 2012, just in time for the summer holidays (to the delight of all those parents who told us they had previously had to listen to Rosie for 6 hours non-stop whilst driving to their holiday destination!) Click here for more information about Five Little Field Mice.

Had we done enough to satisfy our lovely Playsongs mums? Apparently not! For many years we’ve been receiving requests for a singing group just for mums. We finally took the plunge and started our mums’singing group in September 2011, meeting in the evening to sing a wide range of music including gospel, songs from the shows, Abba, traditional and contemporary folk and the wonderful harmonies of African protest songs. Click here to email us if you’re interested in coming along. You don’t need to read music – the emphasis is always on enjoying singing together and having fun!

The success of our mums’ singing group quickly led to a mums’ guitar class for beginners. This meets monthly, giving plenty of time for busy mums to do a little practice in between! We plan to repeat the course at regular intervals – click here to email us if you’d like more information

What’s next? Well we’re currently working on a Playsongs app, so watch this space…..!