Rhythm Child
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Rhythm Child

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"The Bang's All Here"

Be quiet? Don’t touch? You won’t hear that at a Rhythm Child drum circle.

By Brenda Rees

In a grassy area of Hancock Park, kids and parents rummage through big blue plastic bins that contain small West African-style drums (djembes), beaded gourds (shekeres), tambourines and collections of goat hoofs.
Kids give a perfunctory shake, pound and tap on sound shapes, lollipop drums and assorted vegetable shakers before deciding on the right instrument. Hurrying over to a shaded area, families find seats at this Rhythm Child drum circle, where leader Norman Jones is thumping away on his own djembe.
“Come on! Join the drum circle!” entices Jones as families get settled. “Let’s see what kind of music we can make today.”
Indeed, making music is at the heart of Rhythm Child, an organization Jones, a 40-year-old Culver City musician, started with his wife, Heather, almost two years ago. The idea is to introduce young kids to the rudimentary elements of music in a family drum circle experience.
After starting with workshops, Rhythm Child has expanded into a variety of parent-and-me-style classes, along with monthly family jams, regular presentations at local schools and mini-concerts around town.
They’ve been semi-regulars here at LACMA’s Family Sundays events, with workshops scheduled for Sunday and May 1. Rhythm Child is also on the lineup at this year’s Los Angeles Times Festival of Books on Saturday.
For Jones, the drum circle experience is a different one each time he leads either a small class of kids or more than 200 folks in a family jam. “I really love being in the middle of what looks like chaos,” he says. “I really never know what we’re going to do next. I just let it all flow.”
Back at Hancock Park, there’s a cacophony of tapping, clicking, drumming and pounding before Jones launches into a funky drum pattern. Everyone follows the hypnotic rhythms for a while before Jones suddenly shouts out, “Rhythm Child rumble!”
Participants bob up and down as they pound and shake instruments in a frenzy. Jones then instructs everyone to see how quietly they can drum. Finally, he says, “Let’s get louder!” and the whole drum circle explodes with infectious rhythms and exotic beats.
Like the Pied Piper, Jones leads kids and families through a 45-minute experience that ends with a parade around the park. As participants put instruments back into the bins, adults seem to be smiling as much as the kids.
“Some of these things can be kind of boring for parents, but [Jones] really makes music playful and lively,” says Olga Generalova, who brought her 5½-year-old daughter, Nastasya, and her friends. “This also teaches them about cooperation and how to listen and make music together. It’s just a lot of fun too. We all had a good time.”
- Los Angeles Times - April 2005


"A New Rhythm In Learning"

L.A. Drum Circles Go Beyond Sundays in the Park

By Sherry Anne Rubiano

Joelene Knight grew tired of sitting around in a circle and singing The Wheels on the Bus in Mommy-and-Me classes. So when she heard about a group drum circle from a friend at the YMCA, she decided to give it a try.
She brought her then 5-month-old son, Riley, to their first Mommy-and-Me drum circle run by The Rhythm Child Network, a one-year-old Los Angeles-based company dedicated to promoting “positive” music. Here, parents and their children are given free reign to play whatever beat they want. They pound their hands and mallets on drums, rumble vegetable-shaped shakers, and bang boom-whackers on the wooden dance floor and on the walls. Riley, sitting on the floor in his mom’s lap, enthusiastically bangs the small drum in front of them. Both Knight and her son are hooked on the drum experience.
“The class lets him find his own rhythm,” Knight says, adding that it exposes Riley to the joy of music.
Many parents say the sessions are appealing because they give children the freedom to let loose.
Keith Rice brings his 3-year-old son Jason to the circle every week. “It’s an outlet for the kids to make music,” Rice says, “It’s a way for us to do something every Saturday morning.”
Norm Jones and his wife, Heather, founded The Rhythm Child Network last summer. Besides Mommy-and-Me drum classes, they host drumming parties for kids and other family events. They integrate children’s drumming and stories into each Mommy-and-Me session for infants, toddlers and their parents. Jones says these activities promote emotional bonding and a chance for the children to discover music.
“That’s the most important thing for me – not teaching the kids to play anything in particular, but make them feel confident, eager to explore their own rhythm,” he says.
- LA Parent Magazine - May 2004


"Mom's Group Has Drum Circle Workshop"

Thank you so much for a wonderful Drum Circle Sing-a-Long today!

This was our best turnout for a play date so far, and everyone had a wonderful time! Norm received so many compliments for his performance, great energy, spirit and kind way with the kids. And I got lots of kudos for finding you guys!!

I hope we can do this again in the future, and I am sure you will see some of our South Bay Mommies and Kids at any of your upcoming performances.

Thanks again,

Danni & Dylan Dean
- website


"Bang The Drum Slowly ... Or Quickly"

Rhythm Child plans to get 300 kids drumming any way they see fit. They just have to consider the group.

By Elina Shatkin

The avant-garde Japanese punk band Boredoms recently recruited 88 drummers to perform the percussion symphony 88BoaDrum at the La Brea Tar Pits, but that would seem to be nothing compared with the 300 children expected to simultaneously pound the skins at Rhythm Child on Sunday at the Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga.
What would possess anyone (anyone who’s not Tommy Lee, that is) to encourage a toddler’s interest in drums? A firm belief in the musical ability of all children helps Rhythm Child founder Norman Jones take the pain out of percussion.
A lifelong musician who spent years playing in the band General Public with Dave Wakeling of the English Beat, Jones found himself making nontraditional children’s music after the birth of his first son, Bailey, eight years ago. Jones’ melodies, voice and easygoing style resonated with kids, and Rhythm Child was born: “My idea was to put a drum in everybody’s hands and play together. Rather than just perform to them, I wanted to perform with them.”
Unlike most instruments, drums have a shallow learning curve: If you can count, you can play. Plus, kids seem to have an innate fascination with whatever will most annoy their parents.
“Drums appeal to children because kids can move their hands and have an immediate effect,” says Jones, 43, a resident of L.A. “They’re able to play music without having to learn anything.”
Backed by a small band that features Bailey and his other son, Andre, 2½, and armed with a coterie of shakers and kid-size drums, including bongos, small djembes, flat drums and lollipop drums, Jones briefly talks about the music he’s going to play. Then it’s a free-for-all as children rush to plunder the pile of instruments.
Working through a medley of campfire and folk songs – “Oh Susanna,” a blues version of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” “If I Had a Hammer” – the kids play from the first downbeat to the last rumble.
“They’re allowed to play whatever they want, however they want, and as loud as they want, but it’s important for them to know that they’re part of a group,” Jones says. Though there are no music lessons in the traditional sense, he sneaks in exercises such as group rumbles, in which everyone plays loudly, then suddenly stops. “I work the group dynamics so eventually everybody understands it’s not just them playing,” he adds.
Jones isn’t trying to produce the next John Bonham or Gene Krupa. “My main objective is to make kids feel confident in expressing themselves,” he says. “I think it opens up their minds to other cultures and the diversity of our world.”
- Los Angeles Times - 2008


"The Rhythm Is Gonna Get You"

A Rhythm Child performance is more than just a concert. It’s a happening. Founder, lead vocalist and lead percussionist Norm Jones (pictured), a professional musician for 26 years, knows how to bring an audience together. “I take hundreds of instruments to every show so that everyone can interact with us,” says the affable performer. “We provide an opportunity not just to listen to or watch music, but to really have involvement in its creation.” Celebrate the release of the infectious band’s DVD, “In the Studio,” at McCabe’s Guitar Shop. 11a.m. Sun., 3101 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica. $8. (310) 828-4497; www.mccabes.com - Los Angeles Times - 2008


"Kids' Music That Rocks CD Review"

Where can you go for one-stop shopping to find a John Lennon Songwriting Contest Grand Prize-winning song (2005), two Children's Music Web Award-winning tunes (2004 & 2005), and an XMKids Radio #1 hit (2007) ? Hey, you don't have to go any further than Drum Circle Sing-A-Long, presented by the Rhythm Child Network.

Norm Jones and his wife Heather founded Rhythm Child in 2003 to "promote creative expression and cultural exploration" through drum circle workshops, interactive music classes, and live concerts. Drum Circle Sing-A-Long is an aural representation of their mantra, and is full of beats, rhythms, and melodies that'll keep your little ones moving.

The CD kicks off with "Jammy Put On," Grand Prize Winner in the children's category of the 2005 John Lennon Songwriting Contest. This funky adaptation of "The Hokey Pokey" about getting ready for bed is more likely to get kids up and dancing than to settle them down for a night's sleep! Next is the very poppy "Learn from Nature," a sort of kid-friendly description of the science of biomimicry.

Two story songs are then featured: dig the very cool drum sample and tremeloed guitars in "Bird & the Dragon" and the slow jam of the Isley Brothers-inspired "The Story." Hand drums and percussion dominate an updated "This Little Light," and the electrofunk version of "Five Little Monkeys" is one of my favorites on the disc.

"How Much Farther" is an amusing tune about the frustration of being stuck in the car on a family trip, based on the structure of "Oh My Darling, Clementine." The album ends with a rhythm-heavy remake of "Kumbaya" and instrumental versions of "Learn From Nature" and "5 Little Monkeys."

If your little ones are into rhythm and drums, check out Drum Circle Sing-A-Long, a great CD for classrooms and family music collections.
- Warren Truitt - 2008


Discography

Eat A Bowl Of Cherries (2009) brand new studio album

In The Studio DVD (2008) behind the scenes look at Norm & Duane in the studio.

"This Little Light" (2007): #1 for 2 weeks on XMKids Radio

"This Little Light" (2007): Top 10 for 14 weeks on XMKids Radio.

"Jammy Put On" (2007): Top 10 for 22 weeks on XMKids Radio

"Bird & The Dragon (2006): Finalist in the 2006 John Lennon Songwriting Contest in the Children's Category

Drum Circle Sing-A-Long (2005 Remix): Updated and remastered, this version truly rocks! 2 instrumental tracks are included to give kids and their parents an opportunity to make up their own songs or recite traditional rhymes to fresh and groovy beats.

"Jammy Put On" (2005): Grand Prize Winner of 2005 John Lennon Songwriting Contest in the Children's Category

"Learn From Nature" (2005): Winner of 2005 Children's Music Web Award - Best Song Pre School.

"Bird & the Dragon" (2003): Winner of 2004 Children's Music Web Award - Best Song Pre School.
Soon to be released as a book of illustrated lyrics.

Drum Circle Sing-A-Long (2003): Finalist in 2004 Children's Music Web Award - Best CD Pre School.
Well received among parents and schools throughout the country.

"Welcome To This Life" (2003): CD Single that is part of a newborn gift pack and infant marketing campaign.

Photos

Bio

Formed in 2003, The Rhythm Child Network uses music, drums & percussion to stimulate and foster the creative flow within young children. Award-Winning Children’s Music Artist & REMO™ Endorsed Drum Circle Facilitator Norman Jones encourages creative expression and cultural exploration through drum circle workshops, interactive music education classes and family concerts. By creating an environment that uses the drum as a vehicle for building confidence, communicating positive messages and encouraging group dynamics, Rhythm Child helps children connect with their own inner rhythms.

“Norman has a way of entering the heart of every child through his music. His ability to promote children’s creativity is endless.”
Michelle Gathrid (Preschool Director @ Circle of Children)

Rhythm Child’s upbeat style featured on their Drum Circle Sing-A-Long CD merges primal grooves with classic children’s melodies to create a fresh collection of songs offering a soulful alternative to the way children hear and understand music. Originally released in 2003, Drum Circle Sing-A-Long has been a finalist in the Children’s Music Web Awards for Best CD (Preschool) and includes the award winning Best Songs (Preschool) “Bird & the Dragon” (2004), “Learn From Nature” (2005), and The John Lennon Songwriting Contest Grand Prize Winner “Jammy Put On” (2005). “Bird &The Dragon” was also a Finalist in the 2006 John Lennon Contest. Two songs from the CD spent a collective 37 weeks on XMKids Radio Top Ten in 2007 proving that Rhythm Child’s music is still relevant to today’s market.

“I have listened to the Rhythm Child CD so many times I feel like a back up singer! Most of the kid’s CD’s out there are painful for adults to listen to and after going to one of Rhythm Child’s shows and seeing the positive response my four boys had to their music, I had to buy the CD.”
Jennifer Hamm (Parent)

In an on-going effort to help incorporate rhythm into a child’s daily life, The Rhythm Child Network website www.rhythmchild.net features music, instruments, clothing and information that help teachers, parents and caregivers provide more opportunities for stimulating musical involvement.

Rhythm Child family concerts and drum workshops are interactive performances that include the instruments, the instruction, and the opportunity for everyone, regardless of ability, to express themselves in a fun and spontaneous way. As the lead drummer of Rhythm Child, Norm provides a steady and flowing groove that makes it easy for others to join in and play along. This “player friendly” environment allows for everyone to become involved without pressure or fear.

“Of all the family music concerts LACMA has presented over the years, this one was the most successful in terms of being the most interactive for children and highly engaging for adults”. Karen Satzman, Manager of Family Programs @ LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art)

After 25 years of singing, writing and performing, Norman’s ability to connect to an audience is his strongest asset. From the college audiences that danced to the reggae music of his 80’s touring band Crucial DBC, to the die-hard followers of General Public who responded to his contagious positive energy in the early 90’s, and finally to the thousands of families currently listening to the soulful sounds of Rhythm Child, Jones has always had a way of making everyone feel part of his world.

“My main objective is to make kids feel confident in expressing themselves,” he says. “I think it opens up their minds to other cultures and the diversity of our world.”
Norm Jones (Founder of Rhythm Child)

Heather Jones, Norm’s wife and business partner, is the other half of this dynamic family operation. A UCLA graduate with a degree in English Literature and an entrepreneurial spirit, Heather is the guiding force behind the entire network. Her diligence in positioning Rhythm Child as a family oriented business operating with a strong, progressive, and professional attitude has placed the Los Angeles based company respectfully among the elite of the Southern California early education and arts communities. As a mother herself, she understands the varied needs of Rhythm Child’s audience and is an integral part of the company’s direction and appeal.

Their sons Bailey (8) and Andre (3), having grown up surrounded by music, rhythm, and creative expression, are now prime examples of the influence that Rhythm Child can have on young children. Both have a firm understanding of music through their own discovery and are able to present themselves with uninhibited confidence. When they step on stage at a Rhythm Child concert, they possess such a commanding presence that other children also become encouraged to participate in the music.

The overwhelming number of studies showing positive effects and benefits of music and rhythm in relation to children has left many parents searching for new ways to increase their child’s mus