The lots of little joys of Justine Clarke

CHILDREN’S performer Justine Clarke loves being recognised by her little fans.

“Kids are usually in a state of wonder that I am out of the TV and I have to convince them that I am real!” she says.

The acclaimed home-grown performer, actor and writer brings her “Silly Songs” tour to Canberra Theatre on October 6 as part of a national tour coinciding with the launch of her sixth children’s music album.

In addition to numerous small-screen roles and writing children’s books, Justine has been a regular presenter on “Playschool” for the past 19 years and recently created her live action TV program, “The Justine Clarke Show!” on ABC Kids.  

“Music needs to be enjoyable to everyone in the family,” says Justine.

She encourages parents to foster a love of music with their kids as early as possible as it’s great for kids’ development, pattern recognition, language and comprehension.

“Music unites everybody and kids are naturally musically creative,” she says.

“When you play music to a baby, you see their eyes widen and they go still as they listen or their bodies could even start to move. Music is within us all.”

As a mum of three, Justine understands that children’s songs have to be “parent-friendly” and knows all too well the intensity that little fans have when it comes to wanting to play their favourite songs all the time, much to their parents’ frustration!

Justine Clarke… “When you play music to a baby, you see their eyes widen and they go still as they listen or their bodies could even start to move.”

“As a parent you will never hear an album more than the ones your preschoolers will insist you play for them over and over again,” she says.

“Even your favourite album in the world if you listen to it so many times, you will take a break from it. But kids don’t have that switch, they love repetition.”

Justine says she strives to write complex songs to appeal to grown-ups as well.  

“Some parents have told me that they find themselves singing along to my songs in the car even after their kids have got out!” she says.

“Songwriting for kids allows me to step into the minds of four-year-olds and, as a professional actor, I have never really strayed from doing that.”  

Justine says that audience participation will be the focus of the “Silly Songs” show, with Justine and her band helping the audience rehearse a dance and sing a silly song together.

She says that after 10 years of touring, she can see the value of taking children to live performances, with many of them experiencing a live show for the first time at her performances.

“There are a lot of firsts; it might be the first time a child has been into a theatre or seen and heard so many people together in one room. I am very aware of that,” she says.

“It’s part of the joy of performing to kids. I like that they will call out to make requests, answer questions when you ask them and they can even heckle me!”   

Performance was always part of Justine’s childhood, as both her parents worked in the industry, it was part of her world and was a natural pathway for her.

“I never really had to ask ‘what do I want to do when I grow up?’ I just never stopped performing.”

“Silly Songs”, Canberra Theatre,  October 6. Tickets from canberratheatrecentre.com.au or 6275 2700.

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Kate Meikle
Kate Meikle is a staff reporter for "CityNews"

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