If you’ve ever heard your favorite song on the radio after a long day, you know the unique power of music. Whether you like playing music yourself or you’re more of a listener, music offers the opportunity to express yourself and unwind. These benefits are in no way exclusive to adults! Just ask local children’s musician Zazzy Zoe. “I don’t think I’ve ever met a kid that doesn’t like music,” she says. Zoe has been teaching and playing music for children for over ten years now, and she’s seen firsthand the positive impact it can have.

The artist teaches music full-time at 15 preschools in the Portland area. More recently, she began teaching a weekly music class in the REC Room at Hammer + Jacks. She uses her weekly classes to teach children the foundations of music. “At that age, they’re figuring out how stuff works,” she explains. 

During each class, Zoe often plays originals and modified covers. “As much as I can, I’ll take kids’ suggestions. Like, ‘Okay, now we need an animal that stomps! Now we need an animal that flies!’” To play along, kids have the option of shaker eggs, assorted percussion instruments, frame drums, dancing scarves, and more. Zoe herself sticks to playing a few different types of ukuleles, including a 4-string baritone, 4-string tenor, and 8-string tenor.

Of her musical beginnings, Zoe shares that she herself was a late bloomer. “I took piano lessons as a child, but I didn’t even realize I could sing or anything like that until I was around 20.” It was a job teaching drumming at a residential treatment center for teen girls that made Zoe realize her passion for music facilitation. “That was my first experience with teaching and one of the best of my life,” she says. 

Listening to the musician share her story, it’s hard to deny music’s impact on kids. Zoe shares, “I’ve seen scores of kids come out of their shells during my music classes and just blossom.” Parents often reach out to Zoe to praise her classes’ positive influence as well. Some children even go on to take ukulele and drum lessons themselves! 

To check out Zazzy Zoe’s classes, you can visit the REC Room at Hammer + Jacks every Thursday at 10:30 AM. Tickets are available to the public for a sliding scale of $10-$15. The class is geared toward toddlers and preschool-aged children, but all ages are welcome. To learn more, visit the Hammer + Jack’s event calendar here

Children’s Music Spotlight is a recurring column showcasing the children’s music scene here in Oregon. Tune in next month for more local music updates for families and burgeoning young musicians!