Child Development

How to support your own musically-inclined Mouseketeer

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If you have ever watched the Mickey Mouse Club, you would know that a Mouseketeer is a seriously talented child. You only have to remember that many current actors and singers  – Oh hello Britney Spears, Ryan Gosling, Christina Aguilera and Justin Timberlake! – started their careers with the famous TV series.

Do you spot them? Some famous celebrities started their journey in showbiz as Disney Mouseketeers (Picture from Disney)

Malaysia’s own young talents

If your child is hooked on Malaysia’s very own Club Mickey Mouse, you would know the show also features seven youngsters who are bubbling with talent. The Malaysian edition of the popular series is led by Head Mouseketeer Charis Ow, 26, who is joined by Mouseketeers Dheena Menon Jayadeep (Dheena), 13, Erissa Puteri Hashim (Erissa), 14, Ahmad Faiz Najib (Faiz), 15, Gabriel Noel Pountney (Gabriel), 16, Nur Alianatsha Hanafi (Natasya), 14, and Mohd Wafiy Ilhan Johan (Wafiy), 15. It took a nationwide search with open auditions and talent agencies to find the right personalities for the group and show.

Makchic talks to Dheena, Erissa and Wafiy to find out how they started their musical careers, and how their parents encouraged their talents.

Dheena: I would sing and dance in front of my family and relatives


How did your interest in music begin? And which age did you start?
I have always been passionate about music, and that’s thanks to my mom because while she was pregnant with me, she would let me listen to music! Music has always been a big part of my life. I’ve been taking music lessons since the age of 3. And I’m really grateful for that because now as a Mouseketeer on Club Mickey Mouse, we get to sing, dance and act, so it’s a dream come true for me!

What did you/your parents do to help you develop your musical skills?
My parents are my biggest supporters. When I was younger, they would take me to music classes. And we’ve had many memorable moments as a family singing together in the car while driving! And now that I have become a Mouseketeer, they are still my biggest fans and supporters. I would have not gotten to where I am if it wasn’t for them.

Do you play any particular instruments? If so, please tell us which is your favorite instrument and why.
Yes. I can play a number of instruments such as piano, guitar and ukulele. Recently, I’ve also developed a new interest in drums.

In this day and age, besides going for music classes, do you think kids can also pick up music and dance skills from YouTube videos?
Yes, I do think that YouTube is a great platform for kids my age to learn music and dance skills! When I was auditioning my role for the Mouseketeer, I looked to YouTube for music and dance inspiration.

Any special memories of dance/music classes from when you were younger? Or any interesting memory that you can share?
Well, since young my parents would tell me that whenever there is a family gathering, whether it is Chinese New Year, Christmas or Deepavali, I would perform! I would bravely sing and dance in front of my family and relatives. My love for performing continued on till today and it became the reason why I decided to audition for Club Mickey Mouse. It gave me joy to perform in front of an audience and it also made me realise that I brought joy to the fans of the show. That makes me feel really happy.

Erissa: Playing the guitar is stress relief


How did your interest in music begin? And which age did you start?
I was born into a family of entertainers. Both my mom and dad are in the entertainment industry. Mom is a singer, and Dad is a keyboardist and guitarist and naturally I was drawn to music and singing since I was 5 years old.

What did you/your parents do to help you develop your musical skills?
As entertainers, it was natural for my parents to encourage me to develop my musical skills. They would guide me on how to play musical instruments and we would sing along together as a family. Having their support has also motivated me to work harder in my role as a Mouseketeer.

Do you play any particular instruments? If so, please tell us which is your favorite instrument and why.
Yes I do, I love playing the guitar because it is a form of stress relief and it helps me to improve my singing skills as I play and sing at the same time.

In this day and age, besides going for music classes, do you think kids can also pick up music and dance skills from YouTube videos?
Yes, I do think that YouTube is a great platform for kids my age to learn music and dance. Before my audition for Club Mickey Mouse, I researched different Disney songs and performance that I could learn from on YouTube, and that helped prepare me well for my audition.

Any special memories of dance/music classes from when you were younger? Or any interesting memory that you can share?
I have been performing since I was young, so I had many fond memories and experiences singing and dancing. However one of my most memorable experiences would be when I was participating in a singing competition on Astro Ceria Popstar, a singing contest that I participated with my fellow Mouseketeer Wafiy Ilhan. We were sent for training sessions before the filming took place. The experience taught me that you have to work hard and pursue your dreams with determination. And it was that same mentality that led me to audition for the role of a Mouseketeer, and I hope that my experience will inspire other kids as well.

Wafiy: Working hard for what you want

How did your interest in music begin? And which age did you start?
My love for music started when I was introduced to different television music programs when I was 3.

What did you/your parents do to help you develop your musical skills?
My parents recognised my interest in music, and to cultivate it further they sent me to music classes for training. To encourage me further they took me to participate in different singing auditions. From then on, I have been participating in many auditions especially those by Astro. And through hard work, I have landed many roles, including being part of Malaysia’s first group of Mouseketeers and hosting Club Mickey Mouse on Disney Channel.

Do you play any particular instruments? If so, please tell us which is your favorite instrument and why.
Yes. I love the guitar and keyboards and I can play both well.

In this day and age, besides going for music classes, do you think kids can also pick up music and dance skills from YouTube videos?
Yes, with YouTube being so accessible to everyone and there are so many fun programs, kids these days can pick up music and dance skills. Another fun way to learn music and dance is to visit our Youtube channel, where you can check out the Mouseketeers in action.

What does it take to be a Mouseketeer?
Being a Mouseketeer requires you to have talents in areas such as singing, acting, hosting and dancing. But above all, it requires you to be brave, responsible and be an exemplary role model that kids and fans can look to for inspiration. I also hope that my experience will inspire kids to never give up on their dreams, and to work hard for what you want.

If you’re a parent looking to inspire your musically-inclined child in a family-friendly way, tune in to Disney Channel, Astro Channel 615 every Friday, at 1.30pm, where you can see the Mouseketeers in action!

By Nellie Liang