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Little Bands, Big Fun

If you're looking to learn an instrument in Bloomington, Indiana, any number of opportunities exist.

If you're looking to play four instruments, to dig in to repertoire ranging from jazz to funk to rock and roll, and to jam with several others doing the same thing, look no farther than Dr. Music's Little Bands School.

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Since 2000, Josh Grekin, aka "Dr. Music", has been directing a program that teaches children ages four through 18 how to sing and play all the instruments in the room in a rock band or jazz combo setting. And he's even got a parents' band!

Elementary, middle school and high school level bands jam on Saturdays in the music room at a local parochial school, and after school at several area public schools.

According to Brian O'Connor, one of Grekin's high school-age teaching assistants, the younger kids are champing at the bit to get into the rehearsal room. "We have to keep them off the instruments until it's actually time to play."

While the Little Bands School provides traditional instruction for the young kids, O'Connor and his band mates use the program in a different way. Their band, Xenosound, was formed and has developed for almost three years under Grekin's tutelage. Grekin serves in a producer role for the band, which has already recorded an album, and performs at the local all-ages club, among other venues.

After studying jazz trumpet at the Manhattan School of Music in the 90s, Josh Grekin was leading a hip-hop band, and teaching music in an extracurricular New York City school program, when he developed his teaching approach in private group lessons.

When he introduced the multi-instrumental technique in New York, he was astounded by his students' progress, and enthusiasm. "The kids would have broken in to get to the instruments so that they could teach each other the music."

Students in the Little Bands School learn to read music and to rely on their ears. Many are extremely ambitious about their music careers, but are having a good time along the way.

"I think that most of them inherently see it as something that's fun to learn," Grekin avows, "They just enjoy the process. And after a while you can make that decision to be serious enough to be competitive … or not."

Currently, Grekin is in the process of marketing the Little Bands School approach nationally. In Bloomington, the Little Bands summer camp will be held at the John Waldron Arts Center July 6th through the 26th for kids age eight through 18. Registration may be made at Littlebands@gmail.com.

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