Like most new parents, we thought our child was brilliant. Every milestone was met with astonishment and exuberant exclamations that we had the smartest child ever created. If you're a parent, I'm sure you know the feeling! haha
So, I started showing little Justin videos of child prodigies when he was one year old for inspiration. haha I showed him videos of kids doing incredible things in a variety of disciplines: painting, conducting science experiments, rock climbing, solving complex math equations. You name it! And of course, playing musical instruments. The intent was for him to see that kids can do awesome things too; that talent and passion were not a respecter of age.
When LJ saw a child playing the drums in a video, it changed everything. I remember that moment like it was yesterday. I was scrolling through videos and stumbled upon a little boy playing drums at church. He looked like he was about 3 or 4. LJ's face lit up and he said “Again, again!” For a whole week, LJ would say "Play baby drums" to view the video over and over again.
My wife can recall another time, when he watched a video of a drum prodigy playing with an orchestra. Two or three tears slid down his cheeks as he watched. He had such an emotional connection and response to music so early. His fascination with the drums and a desire to play them grew exponentially after these experiences.
Little Justin seeing a drum fill for the first time
I created a playlist on YouTube full of videos of kids playing the drums and he would watch it incessantly and do his best to play along. I can’t tell you enough how much YouTube helped in nurturing Justin’s talent for drums and love for music. It was evident that a ‘switch’ happened in his brain when he saw other kids playing drums. Playing with me in my studio was a major part of his development and singing with his mother and his auntie also cultivated his love of melody and harmony. But after seeing other kids, it was as though he said to himself, “Wow, this is not something only the ‘big’ people do. I can do it too!”
That leads me to why we've started our new online drum lessons/kid jam sessions called Drum Hub for Kids! We get a lot of messages from parents and most fall into two categories. The typical questions are:
1. "My kid loves the drums and I was looking for drum lessons for kids and found your videos. My kid loves to jam with LJ all the time now. Did LJ take lessons?"
2."What did you do to get LJ so good on the drums?"
Each lesson in Drum Hub for Kids will address both areas. The lessons will center around the specific strategies we used with LJ as he was learning to play the drums. We provide parents with a wealth of information; our decisions were very intentional and tailored to his development. Because of his young age, we had to develop a new way of teaching him. Each lesson will have two components.
1. In the Parent Hub, I'll explain the concept, the reasoning behind it and how we learned to apply it to a very small child. Hint: It wasn't easy! Like every parent, we made a lot of mistakes along the way, but we’re eager to share what we learned with you.
2. The Kid Hub will include fun videos where LJ demonstrates a musical concept. And then your child will be able to jam along with LJ to reinforce the new skill. If you've seen videos of LJ playing drums, rest assured, everybody will be having fun jammin!
We’re emphasizing that these are ‘Drum Lessons for Kids by Kids.’ This will be a hub where kids can come together and learn from each other in a kid-friendly, ad-free environment. (Sign up now to be notified when the site goes live in April 2020.)
Now, for the most important part. We did not make LJ interested in the drums. I honestly don’t think you can make a one or two year old do anything, actually. lol. Full disclosure, I was genuinely sad for a few days when it appeared he liked drums more than the piano (my instrument). Haha We saw the interest he had and did our part to feed and support his growing passion. That’s our job as parents, right? We’ve all seen the amazingly gifted kids who ‘wow’ the world with their talent. But when you look at them, they don’t seem to have a joy or love for what they’re doing. We don’t want that for LJ nor do we want that for your child. So, we decided early on that at LJ's age, if it isn't fun, it isn't worth doing. Many of the lessons I developed revolved around activities he already enjoyed, so he always had a fun time doing it. Little Justin has never had traditional lessons and has always played at his own pace. There have been seasons where he’s played for hours a day to times where he plays for ten minutes every other day. We just go with his flow. So in short, we earnestly ask that you do not use these lessons to force your child to play. We believe that music can and should be an expression of love. And force takes away that love. We encourage you to find out what your child is naturally gravitating to and support whatever it is. And if that is drums, fantastic! Stick around!
Of course, there is one more thing that made fostering his musical gift both much easier and more difficult at the same time. It starts with P and ends with rodigy. More on that in the next blog…
Next up: The P word
Check out Drum Hub For Kids and sign up to be notified when the site launches!