By Wayne Doyle
Around this time of year, anyone who has children will at some point face this question: do I really want to get them a musical instrument?
Do I really want to subject myself to the countless hours of practice required for my offspring to play a recognizable tune? Do I have the fortitude to tell myself over and over again that this is a character building process? Do I really believe they’ll stick with it and eventually headline concerts around the world?
If you answered yes, or even maybe to any of the above, then the answer is clear- get that child an instrument. A horn, a guitar, a harmonica – heck, go ahead, get them the drums. In for a penny in for a pound.
But don’t just take our word for it. We reached out to Paul Connors, owner of Connors Music in Keswick since 1978, to get his take on it and how best to navigate the boom boom boom of buying instruments for young folk.
experienceyorkregion.com (XYR): Paul, tell us a bit about Connors Music philosophy?
Paul Connors (PC): Connors Music was originally opened in September 1978. The prime focus was to open a private lesson studio where children & adults could discover the joy and fulfillment in learning to play a musical instrument. That priority remains today, in the belief that “if you can teach someone to LOVE music, playing comes more naturally” At the beginning, there was a small retail component, essentially to supply the needs of students. With time and growth in the community, that has developed into a full line musical instrument dealership, serving Georgina and York Region. It is still family-owned and operated.
XYR: Ok, the big question – what about musical instruments as gifts. Is this something parents should consider?
PC: We believe that an instrument can be a great gift idea because it may open a whole new area of interest in a person. It could be a hobby, or even a career, but a gift of music can truly last a lifetime. If you choose an instrument or lessons, and the person prefers another, exchanges are easy. It’s very important to find the right “voice” for each individual.
XYR: What instruments are the most popular? Are you noticing any trends?
PC: Guitars, keyboards and drums are still the most popular instruments, but in recent years we’ve witnessed a huge resurgence in interest in ukulele, and hand percussion. The uke is fun, affordable, and easy to play, as are world percussion instruments like African djembes, cajons and others.
XYR: What about music lessons? Do they come with an instrument purchase or is that something that would be separate? Can I get lessons for any instrument?
PC: Although we often create packages with an instrument and lessons, both can be purchased individually. We offer private lessons on piano, guitar, bass, banjo, mandolin, violin, cello and drums, both in-person and online. Currently, due to Covid restrictions, vocal instruction and wind instruments such as flute, saxophone, trumpet & euphonium are only available through online platforms.
XYR: Let’s say I have a child who wants to play the drums. I’m wondering if there’s an alternative to a full kit – we live in an apartment and it’s not soundproof.
PC: For the aspiring drummer who has to control sound levels, we recommend electronic drums, and a child size kit starts at approximately $200. There also options available to “modify” drum sets including drum mutes and low volume cymbals.
XYR: A lot of folks are eager in the beginning but that excitement wears off. What do you recommend to keep them interested?
PC: I have learned that the best strategy to keep kids interested in their music, is to take time and listen to their practice. No one wants to be “sent to their room” for practice time. Ask your children what new song they’re studying, and make an opportunity to listen and encourage!
York Region Music Stores
Wilson Music Services, Newmarket
specializing in harmonicas and accordians
The Arts Music Store, Newmarket
Guitars, drums and keyboards
The Piano Store, Newmarket
Lessons for piano, guitar, violin, voice
Cosmo Music, Richmond Hill
All instruments and lessons
Long and McQuade Musical Instruments, Markham
All instruments and lessons
Main Photo: The Connors family, from left, John, Paul, Bernadette, Thea, Joe and David,
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Wayne Doyle is the manager of marketing and communications for the York Region Arts Council. A former journalist, Wayne is always looking for great stories to share with readers of experienceyorkregion.com. If you’ve got a York Region story to tell, contact Wayne: firstname.lastname@example.org