Music has always been a big part of my life. For me, it’s a powerful and natural way to express yourself and connect with the world. In fact, music is not only my passion, it’s my profession too.
It makes sense then that music has woven itself into my life in so many different ways.
My musical adventure started from a young age. I was just a year old when my parents couldn’t find a babysitter for their evening at the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (MSO). Bravely, they decided to bring me along with a plan to leave when I became unsettled. In a surprising turn of events, it was me who found my parents too distracting. I quickly demanded to sit in an empty spot in the row in front – surrounded by people I didn’t know. Seated contentedly with my bottle of milk I was transfixed by the music. To my parents’ relief, I barely moved for the entire concert.
During kindergarten, and after a Meet the Orchestra Concert with the MSO, I informed my mother that I was going to play the violin. At the time, my family assumed it was just a passing fad. But the obsession never passed.
In fact, my fascination with music only grew. As a young child my music teacher, Zeah Riordan, picked up on this interest. She introduced me to music and movement classes taught by Nehama Patkin (of Playschool fame). I have fond memories of crawling around being a ferocious roaring dinosaur. It was a case of kismet when, years later, both my school teacher and Nehama became my instructors throughout teacher training.
In primary school, I started to apply myself to the violin in earnest. This culminated with a tour of the UK with my school’s orchestra. I was just eleven.
My passion for playing both the violin and viola continued to weave its spell throughout my late teens. While completing my senior secondary studies, I also trained as a Suzuki teacher. On graduation, I became a music teacher, sharing my passion with students in public and private schools and music schools, in rural communities as well as offering private tuition from my home studio.
I have also spent considerable time performing as a professional musician. For many years I worked alongside musicians including Tina Arena, Sir John Hopkins and James Morrison. I have toured Europe and performed solo in Milan. A true career highlight happened in 2008 when I performed with the Schönberg Ensemble and Barbara Hannigan as part of the Melbourne International Arts Festival.
Throughout these years I found time to top up my education with a Bachelor of Music with First Class Honours from The University of Melbourne. Music also led me to the role of Producer for ABC Classic FM. There, I worked on live-to-air broadcasts and the national breakfast show with Eddie Ayres (formerly Emma Ayres).
But sometimes things have a habit of going full circle. I attended a Suzuki music conference in 2003 and stumbled upon a Suzuki toddler music class. It was there that it hit me. I really wanted to start helping the next generation of children discover the magic of music, just as I had so many years ago. In 2005, I became an accredited Suzuki Violin, Viola and Baby & Toddler Music teacher.
Today, I have an unshakeable dedication to early childhood music education. There are myriad ways music can help, not only nurture a child’s individual spirit and artistry, but also contribute to their overall learning and development. Daily, I bring the joy of music to little ones and their accompanying grown-ups in music classes across Melbourne’s west. Through concepts of rhythm, beat, lyrics and movement, my team of professional musicians and I promote children’s musicality and development in fun, engaging and entertaining classes for babies through to five-year-olds.
Join me and take your little ones on a journey of musical adventure. I promise you’ll enjoy the experience just as much as our tiny students do.
Sophie Maxwell BMus (Hons.) (Melb.), AMusA, STCA, VMTA
Founder and Teacher, Leading Note.