My name is Eleni and I am the founder of Asterakia. Growing up in Cyprus my love for music started at the age of 7 when I started learning the piano. At the age of 18 I studied Music at Aix-Marseille I University in the South of France.
After 4 years I moved to London to earn my Master’s in Performance Singing from Kingston University and then went on to work as a professional opera singer, while performing in London and other European cities.
For the past 10 years, I have worked as a Music Coordinator teaching children from the age of 0-11 in schools and children centers. I have an extensive experience teaching EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage), the National Curriculum and the PYP (International Primary Years Program).
The idea of creating a fun musical class in Greek came to me after the birth of my first daughter Ariana. When she was around 14 months, I realised that she could understand the Greek language but was responding in English as she was attending nursery from the age of six months. It was then that I realised the difficulty of raising a child in a bilingual environment. For that reason I tried to find different ways of teaching her the Greek language through fun games, nursery rhymes, and traditional tales with puppets. When my second daughter Lydia, listened to songs which I had sung with Ariana during my pregnancy, she was able to recognize them and would respond by smiling and laughing.
In December 2015, as part of my New Year’s resolution, I started putting everything on paper and I created the structure and the first unit. The name “Asterakia” is the Greek word for ‘little stars’ and is inspired by my very own little stars Ariana and Lydia. Music is always a lovely way of engaging with my two daughters and spending constructive and educational time together. Ariana’s favourite song is To Gourounaki (Little Pig) and Lydia’s I Koukouvagia (The Owl).
Asterakia is a 30 minute fun music and movement class which enables each child to learn the Greek language and culture. Themes are carefully selected in order to reinforce all of the above. Some examples of the monthly themes are subject based themes like, ‘The Farm Animals’, Up in the Sky’ and seasonal themes like ‘Easter’. The themes are designed to provide every young learner with a holistic learning experience: visual, aural and kinesthetic. For example when we learned about the owl (Koukouvagia) all the children enjoyed learning the words, actions and melody of the song, flying like an owl in a roll play based activity, making sounds like an owl and recognizing the image of an owl. Asterakia is suitable for 0-6 years old.
The earlier the better! Babies are born with a remarkable capacity to discriminate between voices and sounds. Newborns can detect and recognize their mothers’ voices and the sounds of other newborns crying, and older babies can even distinguish the sounds of their native language from the sounds of languages that are foreign to them. At Asterakia, all the themes are designed to enable this by listening to and imitating animal sounds, the sounds of instruments, story time, and the sounds of adults singing and humming in Greek all of which enhance babies’ discriminatory listening skills.
At Asterakia we use age appropriate percussion instruments ranging from bells, chimes, jingles, shakers, drums, rainmakers etc. Each child is able to touch and play with the instruments while taking part in different activities. To ensure that each song comes to life, puppets and visual props are used to captivate the babies and toddlers imagination.