Let’s be real: How many times can a parent listen to “The Wheels on the Bus” without losing his or her mind?
The answer differs for everyone (it’s about two times for me), but hey — when it comes to music for our kids, we have to roll with the options that are given to us.
Thankfully, one dad decided to flip the script on children’s music, and even the White House took notice (more on that later).
Meet Norm Jones, a professional musician who lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two sons.
When he became a father, he tried to search for music for his kids that was “cool,” but very little suited his tastes. Instead, he did what any good musician would do: He took matters into his own hands.
“I was looking for music that had interesting grooves, soulful melodies, and clever lyrics, but there really wasn’t a go-to source for kids’ music at the time,” Norm told me. “So I did my best to fill the void.”
That sparked the birth of Rhythm Child, a small company Norm created with his wife, Heather. It provides parents and teachers with the opportunity to share engaging musical interaction with their children and students. This is done by introducing kids to the importance of rhythm, movement, and diverse sounds.
Music can have huge educational benefits for kids, and Norm wanted the world to know it.
Numerous studies have shown how music can help kids with intelligence, social skills, emotional awareness, language development, and coordination. Additionally, Norm believes it’s a much better option than the growing trend of kids burying their noses in their tablets, cellphones, or other devices for hours on end.
“In an effort to become more connected, adults are constantly staring at their phones and instead are becoming less connected with the world around them,” Norm said. “This epidemic of distraction is being passed along to our children, and it has to stop. Music and rhythm can help.”
Nobody is on trial when it comes to device usage; after all, electronic music is a form of expression, too. The problem arises when we allow our devices to control us instead of the other way around.
“In an effort to be more connected, adults are constantly staring at their phones and instead are becoming less connected with the world around them. This epidemic of distraction is being passed along to our children, and it has to stop. Music and rhythm can help.”
So how does Norm use music to inspire children? Drumroll, please.
The dude is a percussionist and a damn good one. So good, in fact, that he once won the grand prize in the children’s category of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest.
He travels the state of California to introduce children to the instrument as a tool for education, entertainment, and empowerment. As Norm said, “Most importantly, I’ve been able to introduce children to a part of themselves that they might not even know exists.”
He holds concerts.
He visits schools.
And no matter how big or small the audience is, he ensures everyone in attendance has a drum to play.
“When I first started, I was bringing anything that was safe for kids to hit in my garage,” Norm admitted. “After a couple of years, I partnered with Remo Drums, and we provide the instruments to everyone in the audience, sometimes as many as 300.”
After receiving a lot attention for his work, Norm received an invitation to perform on the White House lawn for its annual Easter Egg Roll in 2011.
Because of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative, all of the acts on stage needed to have some element of physical activity for the event. Norm certainly had that covered.
“Rhythm Child was recognized for the interactive drumming that went along with our music, and once we were pitched to the main folks at the White House, we got in,” Norm beamed. “It was definitely a game changer to have the First Family recognize our work.”
So what’s next for Norm and Rhythm Child?
More drumming, of course.
He’s reached thousands of kids in California and now plans to expand beyond the state to perform in schools and concert venues across America.
“We are responsible for preparing our children to be leaders and critical thinkers,” Norm said. “In order to do that, we need to find ways to expand their creative expression. I’m just doing my small part to help.”
This man is absolutely helping. Other than being a valuable teaching tool, music is a universal language that unifies people of all backgrounds.
Because all it takes is a drum and a couple of mallets, and you’ll find a new friend.
If you’re a parent who gets an anxiety attack over the thought of your kids playing with loud drums, is it any worse than the little ones playing Angry Birds on a device or blowing up pixelated terrorists on an Xbox?
Only you can answer that.
“We are responsible for preparing our children to be leaders and critical thinkers. In order to do that, we need to find ways to expand their creative expression. I’m just doing my small part to help.”
In the meantime, Norm has shifted his focus to what brought him to this place to begin with: being a good dad.
“This all started as my way of being a good father and applying my life’s passion to also benefit my kids. If I can use that passion to also benefit kids all over the world, then my lifelong dream will become a reality.”
Now let’s hope moms and dads will help their kids keep the beat.