First things first, I want to wish everyone a Happy, Happy Friday! Please go out and support live music wherever you are if you can this weekend!

Secondly, as you know this is Grown Folks Music and every know and then I have to put on my “Grown” hat and act like a Dad(which I am) and as “Dad” sometimes you have to say some things that are not popular but you have to say them anyone out of the courage of your convictions.

I posted this video for two reasons: One, it was definitely part of the soundtrack of my youth a great song, at a very different time musically speaking. The second reason that I posted this(and some of you may know that I am a staunch advocate for bands)is that I just sat and marveled at these young guys playing instruments and singing together. It so sad that often these days that would receive a “Where they do that at?” that it is pathetic. As lovers of music, parents, teachers, mentors etc., we have to do better. What do I mean? We have to constantly and consistently challenge and encourage kids to pick up instruments and learn them and you know which kids I’m talking about.

There will always be a Hanson or a Jonas Brothers but where is the equivalent for Tariq, and Kevon and them? Do we not understand the lineage? I’m not trying to give a history lesson but going from Louis Armstrong to some of these cornballs that call themselves musicians by together 2 and 4 bar loops and saying they played all the instruments because you plugged a keyboard into a computer. Sorry to tell you… you didn’t play all of the instruments, the instruments played you.

I often have to clarify that I am not against technology at all, in fact I love it and a lot of stuff that I do I probably would not be able to do without it, but at the same time I’m not beholden to it either and this is the space where so many(myself included)have dropped the ball. This is not a matter of money, the early purveyors of Jazz, Blues, Rock, Funk etc., didn’t have access to a whole lot of money either, new directions in music always come from folks making do with the best that they have.

No, this is a question of balance because there should be an equivalent to every over sixty and under twenty and all points in between rock band out there playing. The problem is we believe and buy into that nonsense of someone totally removed from the culture telling us that something won’t sell. Who said selling was the endgame in the first place? A lot of that junk that is forced into the mainstream in the pop/rock world doesn’t sell, but you don’t see them abandoning the band/group dynamic?

I mean are young musicians in the African American culture only allowed to play in High School and College Marching Bands, Church and the occasional sideman or backing band job and that’s it? Are they supposed to just relive a bygone era playing covers that we are familiar with until they retire?

People gravitate to and are inspired to imitate what they have access to. So if you want to know why music on the whole and in the main sounds like it does just look at what people have the most access to. It’s very simple. Just so you don’t think that I’m a windbag, I will offer up a few things that I think we should challenge and inspire young musicians to do so that a new movement can begin.

1. Purchase an instrument for a child. Explain to them that you want them to actually learn about the instrument first and gain some facility before they even think about engaging in certain activities like “makin beats” etc. I’m not saying they have to be Bach, I’m saying learn some basics like how many notes, the note names, scales(proper fingering for them),what is a key, meter and oh yeah learn a few melodies on that instrument.

2. Take the budding musician to live performances of numerous genres of music(goes without saying but where an actual band/not a track is doing the performing). Help them to focus in on how the musicians interact with each other. Often communities have a lot of free offerings of musical programs in the Summer. It’s really important to get them off the “tube” music sounds a lot different “live”.

3. Seek out musical mentors. The mentor/mentee relationship could be a one-time meeting or a long-term relationship but it is so important to have someone who can encourage and give great advice about all the aspects of being a musician.

4. Act as a curator. This sometimes can be the difficult part. I think sometimes we don’t want to sound like our parents but I think it’s ok to express your opinion. If your kid or neighbor or whomever you have the curator relationship with is playing an artist and they don’t sound good to you, you should tell them. Not just say that sucks, but tell them why you believe it sucks. On the other hand if they play something by an artist and something jumps out at you that you like say that as well. The bottom line is to curate great music wherever and whenever it’s played.

5. Encourage your budding musician to play with other budding musicians and seasoned musicians. Now before I go any further let me clarify something when I say musician that includes vocalists. Vocalists are just as much a musician as those of us who press buttons or strike something to make a sound. But getting back to the point I believe this is where a lot of the culture of playing has been lost. While you are learning(truth be told you’re always learning)you should sometimes just get together and play, no agenda just play, experiment, record your progress this is how the music grows.

There’s more but I don’t want to talk your head off because it’s Friday. But I will say this, I don’t have a problem with persons who are solely “beatmakers”. This is and will always be a question of balance. If there are x number of beatmakers than shouldn’t it stand to reason that there should be x number of bands and groups? Why not? The bigger issue is that you cannot continually forsake your cultural legacy or eventually you will reach a point where you have nothing to stand on culturally. I’m not one of these folks who longs for the past, quite to the contrary, I’m waiting for what’s next. When I think of new innovations, I often point to things that I hear that reference what’s come before. I believe therein lies the problem for this impasse that I hear in the main currently. You can’t reference what you don’t know.

Ivan Orr is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, performer, and writer. A native of Charlottesville, Virginia Ivan was involved with the forming and nascent days of The Music Resource Center as its first Program Director. A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Music, Ivan currently resides in Richmond, VA where he maintains an active performance and production schedule while serving as the Music Editor for Grown Folks Music, a position he has held since 2010.