By Charlie Swanson
It started in a Mill Valley living room in 2009, when Ali Weiss gathered 12 babies and their moms in a circle for her first interactive music class. Six years on, Mini Music has grown into a tri-county experience for the littlest music lovers in the North Bay.
A Bay Area native, Weiss is a lifelong musician and singer. After pursuing the music industry in Los Angeles, she returned to the North Bay in 2005 and earned a teaching credential at Sonoma State University. “As much as I loved rockin’ and rollin’,” Weiss says, “I decided I needed to settle in somewhere.”
Weiss says that happening upon a music class for babies sparked the idea for her. “I knew it was something I could do and wanted to do,” she says. What she didn’t know then was how popular Mini Music would become.
Mini Music offers dozens of classes in Sonoma, Napa, Corte Madera, Santa Rosa and Sebastopol, taught by Weiss, her musician husband, Warren Mann and a roster of three other instructors. Each 10-week class is open to a dozen infants and children up to 5 years old, and their parents.
At the start of the sessions, each family receives an original album of music written and performed by Weiss and Mann, and each song is performed in different ways during the sessions. Kids are inspired to dance, move about, sing, use egg shakers and play instruments, but the class also aims to “inspire the parents to be making music with their children and to be passionate about music in general,” Weiss says.
“What we really strive to do as musicians ourselves is share the joy that music can bring out in people,” Mann adds. “Our thought is that this is music for people, not just kids. We want to create that experience that only music-making can create.”
This month, Mini Music is offering a series of free family concerts open to kids and families interested in joining the program. Mann and all of the instructors will be performing onstage with sing-alongs and dancing.
On Saturday, March 5, Mini Music will be at the Arlene Francis Center in Santa Rosa at 4pm. The show then moves to the Tam Valley Community Center on Sunday March 6, at 10:30am. The following weekend, Mini Music will hold afternoon concerts in Napa on March 12 and Sebastopol on March 13.
Mini Music’s next 10-week session begins April 11, and enrollment is open now. For more information, visit minimusictime.com.