Little Pickle Music Makers is something of a Hove institution. I’m yet to get chatting to a fellow parent who hasn’t either been themselves or knows someone who goes. With sessions running every day Monday to Friday, Dave Taggart (Mr Little Pickle himself) is an unstoppable force of musical fun for kids aged 4 months to 4 years!
I’ve been taking Big S since he was one. He was a super shy kid, it took months of going before he’d venture off my knee and out into the group. But I genuinely credit Dave’s sessions and his great rapport with the kids for helping to bring Big S out of his shell. As the weeks went by Big S would venture further and further from my knee, till the day arrived when we got to the group and he would clamber out of his pushchair and run off to chat to Dave (who he completely idolised, and still does now at nearly four years old).
The sessions are fairly informal, you gather round in a circle on the floor, Dave wanders in and out of the circle, around the edges, lies on the floor for twinkle twinkle with all the kids clambering to be nearest him and sits up at the front as the driver of the big red bus. He sings and plays his guitar and holds the kids attention with a wide range of songs (with lots of favourites played every week, alongside others rotated around so it never gets stale). As an actual touring musician (his own band, plus Belinda Carlisle’s guitarist, no less!) the guitar playing and singing are of a high standard, no wibbly wobbly top notes or amateur guitar playing here. The music is good and everyone sings along nicely, it’s a great sound and I think fun for the adults too.
A big box of soft toys gets brought out for animal themed songs, with more than enough toys for everyone, even on the busiest sessions. Then the kids help Dave put them back in the box and they all carry the box back to the table at the side. Next up there are the musical instruments; xylophones, rattles, maracas, tambourines, drums, bells and lots more. It’s undeniably noisy but the kids have a brilliant time and it’s better to make this much noise at a group than at home I reckon!
At the end there are biscuits and breadsticks for the kids and tea or coffee for the grown-ups, plus a chance to chat while the kids run around and burn off some energy. Woe betide the grown-up that chats during the session though! As Dave reminds the group at the start of each session, this is a group for the kids. They can run around, they can play, they don’t have to sit still and be good and sing when they’re told to and be quiet the rest of the time. But the focus remains firmly on the music and the grown-ups attending the group are expected to listen, join in with their kids and not chat or sit on their phones. If this makes Dave sound stern, or staid, be assured, he isn’t. He’s a riot of jokes and good humour, and you’ll get the piss taken out of you if you sit chatting or on your phone, not told off. It’s a thoroughly happy and fun group and has often been the highlight of the week for Big S.
The sessions run throughout the year, not just term time, which is really useful when so many other groups stop for the school holidays. Dave sometimes takes a few weeks off for Christmas or to go out on tour, but the sessions are on in the holidays more than they aren’t. You also don’t need to pre-book, it’s a drop-in session so you only pay for the sessions you actually attend.
At £5 it’s a pretty standard price for groups in the Hove area, but with it only costing £1 more for each sibling, it’s great for parents with 2 or more kids and ideal for parents of twins.
If you’ve got a shy kid, we’ve found the Friday sessions to be the quietest. The Wednesdays and 10am Thursday sessions can be very busy (I’ve counted well over thirty kids on occasion, which can be overwhelming for more nervous children or parents).
TLDR; Fabulous noisy chaotic music group for kids aged 4 months to 4 years. Unlike any other music group we’ve tried!
Monday Oasis church Hangleton 10am. Wheelchair accessible venue, 2 disabled parking bays, disabled access toilet on ground floor. Good size car park and on street parking available.
Tuesday Ascension Church Westdene 10 am. Wheelchair accessible venue, disabled access toilet on ground floor. On street parking only.
Wednesday Hove Methodists 10am. Wheelchair accessible venue, if the ramp on the hall’s main entrance is too steep, there is level access through the back entrance of the hall that Dave can open for you if required. There is a disabled access toilet next to the hall. Parking is on street pay and display.
Thursday Hove Methodists 10am & 11am. (As above)
Friday South Portslade Community Centre 10am There are a few parking spaces outside the church hall, but they are very popular and fill up quickly. Otherwise parking on street nearby (but not on the road immediately outside as there is a bus stop). They have a disabled access toilet. The sessions are held in the ground floor hall which is wheelchair accessible.
Pricing: £5, siblings £1 each extra. Half price taster sessions available.
*Image credit: Little Pickle Music Makers facebook page.