THERE'S a new all-singing, all-dancing playgroup in town run by stay-at-home father Declan Duffy.

The former Bridport Waterstones employee first discovered the power of music in teaching during his French degree course.

Musician Declan spent a year in France teaching young French children English using his guitar and songs to help them.

He's been a guitarist singer-songwriter for 20 years and he thought music would help with the language divide.

He said: "That was where I had my first experience of using music to teach children and engage them with their language and learning.

"It led to all of the children that I taught gaining a greater awareness of even their own language and English and all of them did better at school, I was told, as a result of it."

It was while he was working full-time at Waterstones over the past five years that his manager asked him to start a weekly toddlers' singing group Declan said: "That was always quite successful that cemented my experience and taught me what children really responded to well.

"Then I became a father and I look after my daughter principally so I stopped working at Waterstones but I still would go into local schools to lead music and literary events for example on World Book Day."

Now his own daughter is at nursery school he has the time to devote to his new playgroup.

He said: "The scientific research is extensive that children benefit from exposure to music at every stage of their development.

"Listening to music uses both sides of the brain and helps all aspects of their development, artistic, academic, emotional, physical and spiritual. It is the one thing that children can do at any age that has a universal benefit."

Parents will also be encouraged to take part and Declan will be using his own and established songs.

He said: "I want there to be a tangible progression for the children. I want their parents to see the benefit but I also want it to be fun for them. I want them to actively enjoy coming along.

"It is quite sad that some parents don't engage musically with their children for whatever reason.

"A lot think 'that is not for me because I am not musical'. I want those parents to come along and feel that actually this is for them and join in."

Declan's new group, called Funkee Munkees, will have its first session at 10.15am on Tuesday (May 17) at Andrew's Hall in Charmouth.

He is aiming at children aged six months to four years.

The first taster session is free then sessions are sold in groups of five flexi-tickets for £30, which are valid for a year, including a sixth session free. For more information, please see or contact Declan on 07947 528568.