She Bangs the Drums

In which our reluctant hero is surprised to be hear The Little Drummer Boy in May and acts to prevent the spread of fake news in his blog.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about definitely not needing a dog, more Build-a-Bear stuff, or a new series of Prison Break. A lovely post it was too – I’m sure that you recall it fondly.

However, like a toddler in a giant soft play, time moves quickly and recent events require me to propose an urgent amendment to my original post.

Don’t panic. The good news is that we have no dog, and we still don’t need one. There have been no new places set at the teddy bears’ picnic either, although how long that will last now that our eldest knows that you can buy Build-a-Bear Trolls is questionable. Two down, one to go.

Surprisingly, Prison Break turned out to be a necessity after all. Addictive, in the same predictable, thinly scripted, can’t-act-their-way-out-of-a-paper-bag-let-alone-a-prison way, just as three of the first four series were. It’s trash but has hooked us. True escapism. Literally.

To prevent the further spread of fake news, I need to replace Prison Break in my list of stuff that we definitely don’t need with something else that we definitely don’t need. The new something that we definitely don’t need appeared from a dark corner of our loft on a drizzly bank holiday Monday morning.

Fakebook. Monday. At about tea time.
Oh wow. Yeah who hates you and bought the kids the drum kit?! 😂😂😂 xx

My wife did.

That’s awkward 🙄 xx

Quite.

After magically making the drum kit appear, my wife hastily disappeared back upstairs, finding sanctuary in the calm of the attic bedroom to catch up with work. This left me alone with two children, four drumsticks and a new play thing that I instinctively knew was going to be very, very noisy. What could possibly go wrong?

Giving small children a drum kit is like considering going back to a lit firework. The initial calm is unsettling, but you know that if you move an inch there will be a very loud BANG! For about five hours… Never go back to a lit firework, kids.

To be fair, it wasn’t all noise, just mostly noise. After a couple of drum “lessons” (sadly, I can’t play them either despite being generally quite musical) we made progress. Proper rhythms played without perforating my eardrums. Hoorah! Our littlest little person even started counting himself in with the sticks, like a pint sized Ringo. Turn your back, however, and he turned into Animal from The Muppets. Every. Time.

Once the kids were asleep, the post bedtime dilemma was whether to return the drums to the loft, leaving 50p in their place while claiming that the Drum Fairy had visited, or leave them out to be played. If they are staying out then there needs to be a good reason as to why. Some research was needed. Over to Professor Google.

According to Time Magazine;

Science has shown that when children learn to play music, their brains begin to hear and process sounds that they couldn’t otherwise hear. This helps them develop “neurophysiological distinction” between certain sounds that can aid in literacy, which can translate into improved academic results for kids.

Now, that may be true for proper musical instruments, but I’m talking about a drum kit. Drummers are the people who join bands to hang out with musicians. How can children distinguish between sounds when the only sound is that of a cymbal being repeatedly walloped with a plastic Thomas The Tank Engine?

Another Internet article described different potential benefits.

The more a child practices an instrument, the better they are at paying attention, managing anxiety, and controlling their emotions.

Really? Give the children the drumsticks and, yes, they pay attention and are massively focused on the task in hand, but sadly not on me and my rantings about playing quietly. I understand the anxiety and emotions bit as the drums can represent an emotional punchbag of sorts. The kids may have de-stressed, but what about dad, eh?

After yet more searching, I found a list of the benefits gained by children learning a musical instrument, which I considered as follows;

It improves academic skills
Having ruled out Time’s “neurophysiological distinction” nonsense, when they’re playing properly, the children are counting and concentrating so I can perhaps see how it might. We even did one rhythm in 7/4.Tick.

It develops physical skills
Yes. The kids each had an extended upper body and right foot workout this very afternoon. They’ll be looking like Geoff Capes by the end of the week. Their coordination and timing noticeably improved over time too. Tick.

It cultivates social skills
Hard to tell with this one as we’ve not ventured out of the dining room yet. We daren’t. I certainly think that they’ll need to develop skills in acting cute and politely next time the neighbours see them. So, maybe. Tick.

It refines discipline and patience
Agreed. They both waited patiently for their turns and certainly put a shift in. Tick.

It boosts self-esteem
How do you measure increased self-esteem in a couple of under fives? Bashing away at the cymbal, skins, sofa, walls and doors certainly made them very excited, loud and happy. Or, put another way, drumming made them feel good. The drums are staying, aren’t they? Tick.

It introduces children to other cultures
Long term, yes. Learning brass instruments as a child certainly shaped my fondness for the odd bit of classical music as an adult. Likewise, learning the guitar and joining “proper” bands unveiled a new mysterious world. It’s drums though, so who knows? Classical culture at best, locked in a bedroom being an Emo kid at worst. Tick. Probably.

With the list reviewed and few negatives to consider, asides from the infernal din, it seems that the drums are staying for now. Oh joy.

Cue my cunning Plan B in which a magical box containing earplugs and a set of drum brushes, to replace the drumsticks, arrives from those lovely folk at Amazon tomorrow. Silence is going to be golden. Probably.

Fin.

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