Inspiring kids’ concerts provide play-along fun in Brighton

Anja Ashton, co-founder of Music Carousel
Anja Ashton, co-founder of Music Carousel

Children will get to play with some of Sussex’s leading musicians at a series of concerts, which has now launched in Brighton.

The new venture, known as the Music Carousel, blends professional performance with play-along fun.

The concerts are the brainchild of musical mums Carolyn Hextall and Anja Ashton, who met two years ago when their sons were in nursery together.

Anja, a former professional percussionist, said: “We both wanted our children not only to hear great live music, but also to get hands-on with the instruments. That’s what really ignites their future passion and unforgettable memories for the whole family.”

Carolyn, who is head of music at Brighton College prep school, added: “We are excited about the array of different instruments we can introduce to Brighton’s families. If you’d love to meet the double bass, bassoon, French horn, oboe and harp, to name just a few, we have all these concerts in store!”

“The hour-long concerts will run on the last Saturday of each month until June. Each one will introduce a new instrument, performer, theme and repertoire, with the music chosen to appeal to both children and adults. There is no age limit and no musical experience is necessary.”

Born and raised in Germany, Anja played cello from age seven, and then in her early 20s she fell in love with African percussion.

She studied for many years under Famoudou Konate, soloist of the Ballet National de Guinea in West Africa, and travelled extensively as a professional percussionist and teacher in Europe, West Africa and the United States.

Having settled in the UK in the ’90s, she became a senior events and marketing manager for an international company.

She is now hoping to pass on her passion for music.

“We were on a quest in to find a place in Brighton where we could take our children so that they could really experience proper music. We have had a few years of the children singing The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round, but they are older now. We wanted to introduce them to really proper music so that they could develop their own passions, but to do it in a non-pushy, encouraging way.

“I am from Germany, and in Germany there are lots of things happening that bridge the gap between the early years and starting to learn an instrument, and I was inspired by those things happening in Germany and other European countries.

“I got together with Carolyn, who is head of music at Brighton College prep school, and she is in a place where children are exposed to really amazing resources. But we both really believed in making it all accessible to everyone in town.”

Upcoming dates for Music Carousel are: February 25, St. Nicholas’, Brighton, 11am; March 25, St. Mary’s, Brighton, 11am; April 29, Unitarian Church, Brighton, 11am; May 28, St. Nicholas’ Church, Brighton, 4pm; and June 24, St. Mary’s, Brighton, 11am.

To find out more call Anja Ashton on 07930 494822 or email Adults £8; children £5.

Tickets can be purchased at

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