Digital Natives sounds like a pretty cool band name, right? Not too dissimilar from the handles of amazing artists such as Local Natives or Digitalism – except digital natives are not a band, it’s a term used to refer to the young generation that is coming of age in the wired era, a generation that never knew a world without the internet. While this young generation will surely accomplish amazing things while facing the difficult challenges or our times, there is of course some concern that they will lose touch with the real world and important tactile activities that keep us grounded.
Learning a musical instrument is a really great way of participating in something interactive and exciting without the help of a touch screen or the internet. Of course, in the digital age there are many helpful tools online for musicians, but signing your child up for music lessons at Long & McQuade would definitely be more effective that leaving them – quite literally – to their own devices.
While ripping a phone number off of a flyer for some local guitar teacher named Xander who used to tour with the Grateful Dead is always an option, you run the risk of leaving your kids with a guy who doesn’t know what he’s talking about. At Long & McQuade the teachers are required to have a university degree in music, or least the equivalent education with the Royal Conservatory in Toronto. They offer a range of lessons from voice to almost any instrument, to theory as well. The theory aspect of lessons can come in especially handy if your child is enrolled in music class at school, as they will simultaneously learn to play from a pro and study for upcoming music theory exams.
The experience of learning from a real-life teacher with personality and enthusiasm can be very positive. Many young people will be inspired by the creative energy of their teachers and by a discussion of how music as a career, hobby or side gig can take you to some really interesting places. The value of that face to face time can also help your child develop social skills and plus, the more time they spend away from their phones and tablets the better. I’m not arguing that computers and the Internet are negative in and of themselves, but if most kids had their way these days, they’d have wireless internet in their brains (mind-fi as the writers of Portlandia cleverly dubbed it), and this, I believe, would certainly be a bad thing.
The tactile experience of playing an instrument – of manipulating a solid instrument with your hands to produce exciting results in the physical world (music, after all, is nothing more than vibrations in the air) – is enormously gratifying. If you can get your kid away from their smart phone long enough to appreciate the experience of strumming a guitar, banging the drums or jamming on the saxophone, it may help them become more engaged with the world outside of the digital realm: the real world. By playing with others and by learning about the lives of the greats, they’ll be able to tap into something bigger than themselves that will help in their journey to find their path in the messy world.