A pink taxi

A pink taxi

August 28, 2010

La Bulle d'Air

I found a magical music and arts center for children in Geneva called "La Bulle d'Air". An Orange poster drew me in 8 years ago, when my first born was 18 months. The picture was of dancing elves playing musical instruments. Every summer since, I have enrolled my children in  their  day camp  program.

We began with "Mommy and Me" classes. Once a week, a violinist made us sit in a circle and taught us classic songs, while we played various instruments along with him. It was then that my son discovered the violin and it wasn't long before he took violin classes while still in diapers!

When we left for Dubai, the music classes for infants at Jumeirah Music Center were above satisfactory and  represented an introduction to music theory to my children. However the classes lacked the "ambiance" of those early Bulle d'Air classes. This may be due to the cultural barrier: we much prefer to sing in French for example, but the atmosphere without a doubt was different.

First of all,  there are no grungey teachers in Dubai.  No organic meals are served after class either. La Bulle d'Air must have the largest collection of musical instruments you are "allowed to" handle. When my four year old son took an "orchestra class" there, he played with wind instruments, drums, strings, and keyboards. My daughter concentrated on African instruments and built her own "djembeh" with goat skin. Her teacher was from Burkina Faso and also was a talented guitarist that would get most campers singing simple African songs or more complex French ones. On any day that I pick them up from the lovely and elegant villa that hosts La Bulle D'Air classs, I can always hear guitar or piano notes slipping out into the large garden where kids have their lunch and play hide and go seek behind the trees.

La Bulle d'Air isn't just a music center. My kids have taken drama, arts and crafts and painting, and even interdisciplinary classes that focus on a theme like the circus, the desert or dragons and integrate theater, painting and music. It is truly a center for the arts.

Here below, especially for the French readers, I have added the lyrics to a song the kids have learnt at Bulle d'Air this summer. My favorite part is the "zeste deplace!"

"Connaissez vous l'histoire

(Choubidou bidou ah)

D'une petite mandarine

Qui s'en allait un soir

Au bal de sa copine

En chemin elle rencontre

Un jeune garçon citron

Il lui dit vient chez moi

On va danser le rigodon

Pendant qu'ils s'embrassaient

Pendant qu'ils s'enlaçaient

Le jeune garçon citron

A eu un zeste déplacé

Et en rentrant chez elle

La petite mandarine

A dit à sa maman

Je vais avoir un gros pépin

Et neuf mois plus tard

La petite mandarine

Accoucha d'un bébé

Qu'on appela Clémentine"


  1. The first time we used a summer camp was when we heard from a cousin about a summer camp in Vermont,where we sent the blogger on her first adventure.This is where she learnt how to swim in a lake,and eat too well.She enrolled for two summers,that prepared her to go later to an all girl college:Smith College.
    The second summer camp was the share of her brother,where we sent him also to a Vermont computer camp!That was the beginning of the PC revolution,where you needed to prepare your children for the future.Not a born geek,the teenager did not benefit much,except to learn how to live in a milieu of 99% nerdy Jewish kids.
    Our third kid never went to a summer camp.She was always successful at school,and preferred to stay with her siblings during our summers in DC or France.
    The youngest experienced the first summer day "creche" in Washington DC where he learnt how to sing American Indian songs similar to those mentioned above.

  2. I clearly remember taking Torab to Bulle d'Air. It was a beautiful sunny Geneva day and the Pope had passed away. We sat in a circle with Torab and his friends and we played drums and all other fun instruments. I also remember how Torab was more obsessed with making friends than actually learning music. I'm sure Syraat concentrated during the music sessions but the one who is actually passionate about music is Mirwais!