LoveBug & Me Music

Photo courtesy of Mary Arden

Topanga’s “Mommy and Me” music class expands throughout L.A.

Singer-songwriter Mary Arden Gorman founded “Goddess Mamas” in Topanga when her son, Bodhi, was born seven years ago. That morphed into “LoveBug & Me Music” held at the Topanga Community Club before moving to its present home at the Topanga library.

Now, LoveBug & Me Music has 45 classes from Topanga to Woodland Hills, Los Feliz and Pasadena, employing seven more “magical music educators,” two administrators and 450 students attending every week.

Miss Mary (as the children call her) is still teaching, but will take some time out following the birth of her second child, due late October.

“Music is so important for young kids,” said Gorman. “It’s known to enhance brain development and creativity. Using instruments helps motor skills.”

The children, up to four years old, get to sing, dance and play with puppets and musical instruments. Sometimes there are musical guests. The classes started with mothers and their babies, now dads and grandparents join in the fun.

While the business is growing, Gorman remains heavily involved, planning all the lessons. “The focus is on peace, love and joy, and to benefit the child’s development—always keeping a Topanga vibe. As a mom myself, I specifically wanted to create a program the parents enjoy as much as the kids,” said Gorman.

While the children still get to sing classics like “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” and “The Wheels on the Bus,” Gorman also writes original songs for the classes and the repertoire includes Beatles and Bob Marley songs for the grown-ups. There are CDs from each series and there’s even a LoveBug & Me Music Greatest Hits.

The CDs are a family affair with Gorman’s musician husband, Mark Gorman, playing bass and their son, Bodhi, singing. The Gormans met at a concert in Philadelphia 18 years ago and moved to Los Angeles together, living in Topanga for four years. “We wanted to be in nature and a community,” said Gorman.

Goddess Mamas was a yoga class Gorman started for new moms. “I would bring my guitar and do some songs during yoga, and moms started asking for more music. Some asked for a music class and I wondered why I hadn’t thought of it. I was a music artist in an industry where it’s increasingly hard to make a living and I love children,” she said.

LoveBug & Me Music is well established in the community and takes part in the kids concert series at Theatricum Botanicum. “I had two of my Magical Musical Educators sing with me this time,” said Gorman.

They also take their music circle of singing, dancing, imaginative play, puppets, parachute and scarf activities, and instrument playing to birthday parties.

There are 10-week seasonal courses with a new theme for each series. The fall series is “ABCs and 123s” with a new CD of songs to go with each theme. Last summer’s theme was Surfin’ USA.”

Some class times are full, but there are openings in the 11:45 a.m. class on Tuesdays. The current teacher in Topanga is “Miss Deborah” Robin. The fall series has just started, but parents can purchase a one-time drop-in class or the full series at a discount that includes two CDs, a jumbo shaker and an MP3 download card. Each class is 45 minutes long.

The Magical Musical Educators at LoveBug & Me Music all play live instruments and bring a gathering drum to class. Noise is encouraged and there are all kinds of percussion for the kids to experiment with and explore. It’s also a great way to meet other moms.

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Claire Fordham

Fordham worked for the BBC, ITN and Sky News in the UK and wrote a weekly anecdotal column for Britain’s biggest-selling newspaper, The Sun. She currently writes regularly for Huffington Post, The Malibu Times and the Messenger Mountain News. See "A Chat with Claire Fordham" on this website under Podcasts.

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