Music helps everybody. It helps us to connect, have fun, and learn. Last weekend I went to 'Fire in the Mountain Festival', in Wales. Three days of music, Ceilidh dancing, Cider, and splashing in Welsh waterfalls. Each morning I was woken up, not by the birds, but by Double Bass Dan, who led the morning music session for children. Dan's music was so joyful, that groggy eyed I rushed from my tent. And joined in without my morning coffee! Dan's uplifting blend of music, fun and dance struck a chord. After the show, I spoke with Dan about how music helps children.
Dan sang simple songs, about subjects that everybody knows: animals, buses, boats. Things we all do. Dan's music was accessible and immediate. Anybody could join in. Passers-by joined in, without even realizing. One minute they were buying breakfast, the next they were clapping and singing. We've all got a heart beat. We all live in the universe-it's all vibrating. Dancing and singing together helps us celebrate life. Music reminds us that we are connected. When we connect, our confidence soars.
When we make music together we share our joy for life
Joy and confidence go hand in hand. Dan's performance works because though music he shares his joy for life. He told me: "anyone can make music and have fun in the process. Start from a place of 100% encouragement.-simple songs about: shared experiences, shared life, things we have in common. The purpose of music is to celebrate life." Simple music works best. Joy and simplicity are the foundations of music. Later on, music can get complicated. But start simply.
When Dan said: "And now for our national dance. The Hokey Cokey!" Two 5 year old girls cheered and hugged each other. Soon, everyone was smiling. As Dan sang the familiar words of the Hokey Cokey, smiling was infectious. Simply holding hands and going in and out with a group was mysteriously satisfying. The pursuit of happiness, and the meaning of life have long eluded philosophers. Does the Hokey Cokey hold the key? Dan told me:
My love of cooking comes from my love of eating. My love of music comes from my love of dancing.
Dan plays music because of dance. When he was young, he listened to bass lines in songs, and danced. It was so much fun that he learnt the double bass. Now he plays music, leads workshops, and travels the country- inspiring children and adults, one song at at a time. Children love to move and dance. Get children to sing, dance and play before they learn an instrument. Let joy come first. Study and determination later. It's joy that gives the momentum to learning-whatever we learn.
Modern life ferries children- from house, to car, to school, and back again. Dancing, and singing for an hour are excellent exercise. The heart pumps, you build up a sweat. Jumping up and down is harder than it looks. No need for a fancy gym. Just dance, sing and play. This is the kind of exercise that comes naturally to children. Fun and easy.
Perfect people performing on stage, or on television can make us feel that we are not good enough. If this message is received regularly, children become inhibited and fearful. Simple songs and dances are the cure. In Double Bass Dan's sessions children fell into the music. They were swept away by joy. Inhibitions and self consciousness melted away. It's O.K when things go wrong. It can be inspiring to see a talented performer make a mistake. I remind myself of this with one of my favourite quotes. "If you want to succeed, double your failure rate." (Thomas Watson Jr.) A creative atmosphere allows space for mistakes. Mistakes are great teachers.
Ideally join a weekly music group. But also sing, dance and play in your home. Find favourite songs, make up dances. Do this regularly. On Fridays, after work, my family danced the 'Boom Boom Dance', in the kitchen- hands on hips, bum in the air. Wiggle. Have a bunch of songs that you can all sing. You can bring a breath of fresh air to family gatherings with a few songs up your sleeves. A family that plays together, stays together.
Double Bass Dan is based in London. firstname.lastname@example.org