A brother and sister with backgrounds in music and arts are hoping to inspire those passions in neighborhood kids with their new children’s enrichment program at Ume Ume Music & Arts, which recently opened at 319 4th Avenue, just off 3rd Street. Sotiria and Christos Stavropoulos, the siblings and co-founders, have both had a love of music and the arts since they were children.
“The Ume Ume experience has been a focal point of our family life since we were young,” Christos says. “Our youngest sister’s first words/sounds were ‘ume ume,’ and we have taken it to symbolically mean ‘you and me,’ working together to create and learn about our world through music and the arts.”
Sotiria grew up classically trained in both the violin and piano, and went on to be involved in various choirs and orchestras in both the Chicago and New York metropolitan areas, while Christos developed a passion for Byzantine music, obtaining both a teaching and practitioner’s degree in that subject from the Music Conservatory of Athens, Greece.
They each also have a background in teaching — Sotiria, with a Masters in Education from Hunter, has taught in both NYC public and private schools, and Christos, with a Masters in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, has been teaching both children and adults about the ancient Byzantine art form for the past 10 years. So it was a natural fit to combine their love of music, the arts, and teaching.
Photo via Ume Ume
“Together, my sister and I created Ume Ume to ultimately give the children of the area a well-rounded and meaningful experience,” Christos says. “Having such a great love for music and the arts in our hearts, we wanted to create a program that added significant value to the lives of children. As our mission states, we aim to ‘bring together children and the arts.’”
The main difference between Ume Ume and some of the other music and arts programs for children that are available in our area, says Christos, is that they’ve taken a detailed and proven approach toward child enrichment at Ume Ume.
“Tailoring to the unique and subtle differences of each age group, we have created three separate Ume Ume programs that apply the history of music and art along with the science of movement,” he says. “Ume Ume is an arts integrated approach to learning.”
There are Ume Ume programs for children as young as 6 months old, all the way up to 12 years old. The spring session (10 weekly, 45-minute classes) begins the week of April 21, and children can enroll and jump in at any time during the inaugural 10-week session. The cost of the 10-week enrichment program is $480.
Photo via Ume Ume
Christos says Park Slope was the perfect choice for their first space because they “recognized that this young, vibrant, and constantly growing neighborhood was a great fit for our unique instructional approach,” he explains. “We saw a demand from parents in need of a real meaningful experience for their children.”
Teaching those kids, and seeing them embrace some of the passion both Christos and Sotiria share for music and the arts, is one of the greatest rewards in their work.
“That moment when our instructional approach touches a child, and sparks their love of the arts,” Christos cites as his favorite thing about teaching children. “The indescribable moment when the instruments come alive, and the composers and artists of history become real.”
Still, it’s one thing to read about it, and another to see it in person, and they encourage parents to visit to see how their program works.
“We ultimately want our neighbors to know our sole goal is to provide their children with a valuable and meaningful experience that will stay with them throughout their development,” Christos says. “We encourage everyone to stop by and see just how special the Ume Ume experience is.”