"Rock and Roll music, if you like it, if you feel it, you can't help but move to it'. -Elvis Presley
Certainly this was what happened when I heard Deep Purple's 'Highway Star' for the first time in my dad's car when I was probably around 5 or 6 years old. The music didn't just make me 'move' to it for the duration of the song, it had a permanent, long lasting impact. This powerful expression of music shaped my thoughts and emotions growing up. It molded my identity as I continuously found influence in the Rock bands I loved air-drumming and air-guitar solo shredding to. If my life needed a soundtrack, it would most definitely be a Rock song.
As a music teacher (and life-long student), I would often find myself falling into a deep abyss of technical study and I would often, pull my students along for the ride too, as we run along the hamster wheel of endless proficiency exercises in pursuit of illusive instrument mastery. At some point, I made it my mission to bestow upon my students, the awesomeness of the music which I loved so much. The problem was that, Rock music being all about freedom of expression, meant that a lot of Rock songs contained mature themes or language which would probably not sit very well with young kids (or their parents, for that matter).
A quick search on YouTube for 'children's music' would give you a nightmarish tapestry of cookie-cutter, synthetic sounding nursery rhymes accompanied by borderline psychedelic animation (insert silent screams here). I couldn't possibly get kids to appreciate quality music with this!
In recent years however, there have been a few 'child-friendly' Rock/Heavy Metal acts that have managed surface and rise to stardom. Here are my top recommendations of amazing Children-friendly Rock and Heavy Metal Bands to spark inspiration in your child (or even yourself) to love music and maybe even pick up an instrument themselves, like the drums, guitars, piano, ukulele, etc.
1. Hevisaurus (Finland)
Probably the most famous 'kids-orientated heavy metal band' in the world, Hevisaurus hail from Finland and are known for performing in Dinosaur costumes. Hevisaurus was formed in 2009 and have since, released seven albums which have sold over 170,000 copies in Finland alone. In 2010, one of their albums was the second most sold album of the year in Finland. This was the same year the band was awarded a Grammy for 'Best Children's Music' in Finland. They have since, also released a self-titled movie in 2015. To date, their albums have also been reproduced in other languages such as Spanish, Hungarian, Swedish and German. Few Finnish bands have made onto Hard Rock Cafe's international database of artists but Hevisaurus is one of the few with that honour. Their packed live shows usually consists of a balanced mixed of adults and children in the audience. The lyrical content of their songs revolve around fantasy, adventure and themes that any child between the age of 2 - 10 would find relevant (if they spoke Finnish).
2. O'Keefe Music Foundation (USA)
While not exactly a band or music outfit per say, O'Keefe Music Foundation (OMF for short) has put together and produced some of the most impressive projects consisting of young talent for the world to behold.
OMF was founded in 2006 by Aaron O'Keefe in Ohio, USA. As a nonprofit, OMF offers free music lessons and courses to young musicians believing that all children regardless of economic circumstances, deserve access to high quality music education. OMF also makes it their mission to professionally record and produce music videos of their students. These music videos have captured the attention of audiences worldwide over their Youtube channel as evident from the millions of views. Although not restricted to it, the cover music performed by OMF students lean towards the Rock and Heavy Metal music spectrum. Questionable lyrical content of certain original songs covered have also been rephrased, making it safe for a young listener's consumption.
3. The Wackids (France)
Were you one of those kids that started playing music on one of those music 'toys' mom or dad picked up at Toys'r'Us? Well, imagine 3 fully grown men rocking out with those very same toys (with an impressive display of technique) and you have The Wackids from France.
The Wackids claim to put on, in their words, 'Rock'n'Toys concerts for adults where you have to bring the children. Band members, Blowmaster, Bongostar and Speedfinger bring their audiences through an Odyssey of Rock involving the best of punk, rap, grunge, new-wave, funk and pop delivered by an arsenal of mini toy-like music instruments stolen from a child's playroom (including musical bells, Hello Kitty microphone, stylophone, otamatone, toy piano, xylophone, mini electric guitar, boomwhackers, just to name a few).
They've enjoyed a successful career so far with over 10 years of touring and playing hundreds of concerts (some as huge as stadium venues) both locally in France and internationally. Their YouTube music videos have raked in millions of views, proving to the world that, true to the saying: Good musicians can make any music instrument sound good!
The contagious fun exuded by The Wackids is a great initiation into rock music for young children without creating an overwhelming sense of having to master a particular music instrument. Parents too, will be thoroughly engaged and impressed in the showmanship abilities of The Wackids without having to cringe up, as the case with most other children's music acts.
4. Voice of Baceprot (Indonesia)
Indonesia has always proclaimed a love for heavy metal (with the current president Joko Widodo himself, proclaiming to be a fan of heavy metal music). So, it comes as no surprise that they've managed to churn out talent after talent of amazing musicians in this spectrum that have gone on to enjoy success on the international stage.
Voice of Baceprot (VOB) however, are a unique product of the country that have been standing out lately. VOB consists of members Marsya, Widi and Sitti. All of whom are hijab-wearing young Indonesians with humble backgrounds from a small town in West Java. The trio first met in their local madrasah (Islamic school) and have gone on to turn heads.
Going against the grain of a stereotypical heavy metal musician image, VOB is seen performing dressed in hijab at all times. This has drawn strong criticism from the more conservative Muslim voices but at the same time, they've been hailed as a source of inspiration for women's rights everywhere else.
Renowned heavy metal magazine, Metalhammer has described Voice of Baceprot as:, "A metal band that the world needs right now". Even big names in Rock such as Slash (Guns N' Roses), Flea (Red Hot Chilli Peppers), Tom Morello (RATM) personally acknowledged the prodigious Indonesian trio in their personal shout outs. VOB have performed on countless stages and are receiving endless international recognition. This seems to be just the beginning for these young inspirational girls.
While working on releasing their debut full-length album, they will be embarking on their first ever European tour at the end of 2021. At the same time, Voice of Baceprot have also been confirmed to perform at Wacken Open Air (WOA) 2022 in Germany, which is widely regarded as the biggest heavy metal music festival in world.
5. Babymetal (Japan)
While the sheer amount of young talent coming out of Japan seems to be an almost regular ordinary routine, here is one of those truly memorable acts that have achieved legendary status owing to their one-of-a-kind uniqueness which gave birth to an entirely new genre of music.
Pioneers of 'Kawaii Metal', the all-girl outfit known as Babymetal blends Japanese pop (J-pop) style choreography and vocals with a backing of live heavy metal music instrumentation. The resulting outcome has been nothing short of a worldwide phenomena.
In the past 10 years of the group's existence, Babymetal have enjoyed a meteoric rise in popularity all around the world which shows no sign of dwindling. Going from their debut show at Japan's biggest music festival, 'Summer Sonic Festival' (at just the average band member's age of 12 years old!) to playing sold out stadium tour shows in the biggest venues in the world and appearing alongside the stage opening and supporting huge names such as Avenged Sevenfold, Megadeth, Lady Gaga, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Metallica, Guns N' Roses, etc., Babymetal have truly achieved what some would describe as 'Heavy Metal Immortality'.
Although well received among adults, younger children in particular will find Babymetal easy to get into due to their eye catching dance moves and cute (ie. 'kawaii') image. Their lyrical content consists of much positive encouragement themes and as well breaking out of stereotypes (edit: Babymetal have announced an indefinite hiatus starting from October 2021).
With the advancement of modern technology, the music scene has seen a huge surge in up and coming prodigious young talent around the world thanks to the like of platforms like YouTube. While it can be inspirational, adults need to take it upon themselves to communicate to children that, ALL that talent requires lots of consistent hard work and this is an important reminder I always note to my students. As Zig Ziglar once said:
"There is no elevator to success, you have to take the stairs".
Fortunately, motivation is just a click away these days!
Thanks for reading! If you are looking to start music lessons for yourself or your child whether online or in-person with our tutors, be sure to utilize this promo code when signing up with us to receive a special discount: DQROCKSJB