Tots as young as four to learn to play rock music

Chris Cowan shows son Samuel a few chords on the electric guitar. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Chris Cowan shows son Samuel a few chords on the electric guitar. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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A pioneering childcare group in the Capital is to launch Scotland’s first free music academy for aspiring tot rockers aged as young as four.

Inspired by Jack Black’s portrayal of rock guitarist-cum-teacher Dewey Finn in 2003 comedy School Of Rock, leaders at Edinburgh’s Dads Rock said they wanted as many youngsters as possible to learn how to blast out tunes on a Fender bass or Vintage Vibe electric piano after their unique academy launches next week.

Lucky students will each be given free music tuition as well as a specially-sized instrument on which to hone their skills.

Tutors are set to work with youngsters aged five to 16, but academy bosses said they would also look at taking on exceptionally talented four-year-olds.

Co-founder Thomas Lynch said: “We’ve now met the new pupils and most of them haven’t even touched a musical instrument before – they’re at the very beginning.

“You can now pay up to £40 a session for music lessons. Personally, I think that’s quite prohibitive. This is a way for families and kids to access music tuition.”

Funded with an £8000 Big Lottery grant, 25 youngsters will receive their instruments along with weekly, 45-minute music lessons in one-to-one and group formats.

The academy’s initial cohort of tutors is to be taken from professional training programmes at Edinburgh
College, which will also offer its cutting-edge Music Box venue as a teaching space.

Mr Lynch, who has already received requests to expand the service to Fife, said creating an Edinburgh-wide network of child rocker classes would be the first step towards setting up a national academy.

“Next summer, we intend to do everything we can to take Dad’s Rock Academy to other places and other parts of Scotland,” he said.

“At the moment, accessing music lessons is a lottery. I have friends who’ve spoken to me about the fact that you have to apply for your child to get lessons on a musical instrument and then wait to see if they’ll get it or not.

“We’re plugging a gap with this.”

The new classes have been welcomed by leading figures in the Capital’s rock scene, but they warned parents against exposing children to competitive pressures at a young age.

Bruce Findlay, who managed Scots rock legends Simple Minds, described the new academy as a “great idea” and said: “Will it produce the next Simple Minds? Who knows – it might, but that shouldn’t be the sole purpose of it.

“I would hate to think of Simon Cowell heading along to classes to see if there were potential superstars. Kids should be taught all sorts of things in life, it’s all part of growing up.”

Lecturers at Edinburgh College said they were delighted its students were taking part.

Jon Buglass, head of creative industries, said: “Not only does this give the family some fun time together but it also gives our students their first taster of instructing adults and kids how to play an instrument.”

The top ten tot tunes

I’d Do Anything for Love (but I won’t do nap) - Meat Loaf

Another Lego-brick in the Wall - Pink Floyd

Bairn in the USA - Bruce Springsteen

Stair-gate to Heaven - Led Zeppelin

Welcome to the Jungle-gym - Guns n’ Roses

November Wean - Guns n’ Roses

Wrecking Ball-pool - Bruce Springsteen (or Miley Cyrus)

Good Dolly Miss Molly - Little Richard

Brat out of Hell- Meat Loaf

I Can’t Fight This Teething Anymore - REO Speedwagon

Instruments come with expensive strings attached

A WIDE range of kid-sized guitars, drum kits and keyboards are now available and could be among those offered to youngsters enrolling at Dads Rock Academy – but they’re certainly not cheap.

A Tanglewood Elf 1/2-size electric guitar would set academy organisers back around £90, although some models are a bit less expensive.

Decent drum kits could cost even more. The popular PP200 junior set – featuring cymbal, hi-hats, kick drum pedal and drum stool – has a recommended retail price of just under £220.

And the academy will also have to fork out for keyboards – the Casio LK-165 61 Key light-up model comes with a price tag of £84.