Why was the Greatest Showman panned by the critics?

The Greatest Showman is the biggest movie success story of this century so far. With scores like 6/10 and just 2 stars from movie critics, it wasn’t expected to make much of a return on the whopping cost of producing it and yet audiences have loved it. In my opinion, it’s the music, and superb performance of it, which holds this film together. Big numbers such as ‘This Is Me’ and ‘A Million Dreams’ have captured the hearts of young and old with their feisty lyrics and singable tunes. Beside them however are more mature themes, both in the lyrics and the music, giving changes of pace which add an extra level of depth. ‘Never Enough’ and ‘Rewrite the Stars’ have soaring melodies and serious messages which are beautifully exploited by composers Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. The remarkable songwriting elevates this film far beyond what the critics were expecting.

It seems the critics were expecting a film that would explore the extremely interesting true life story of P T Barnum. It would definitely be a story worth telling. We already have the stage musical Barnum (1980) which loosely tells the rags-to-riches version of the tale. Both it and the new movie ignore almost entirely the fascinating real life story of a man who was an author, publisher, philanthropist and politician. An influential figure in prohibition and the creation of prostitution laws, he was also very vocal about the abolition of slavery, famous for saying ‘A human soul, that God has created and Christ died for, is not to be trifled with. It may tenant the body of a Chinaman, a Turk, an Arab, or a Hottentot – it is still an immortal spirit.’ This attitude of inclusion may have made some significant contribution to his desire to rescue the people who became part of his show from being persecuted as freaks.

So, the film doesn’t touch on much of this at all and yet it is captivating and fabulous. The simple answer is probably ‘sometimes critics get it wrong!’

Buy sheet music from The Greatest Showman movie for piano, ukulele, flute, violin and more here!

Twyford Tootlers Open Air Concert at enjoymuzic

We’d like to say a big thank you to Rachel from Dawson Music & The Twyford Tootlers for their amazing open air concert at enjoymuzic!  They even brought the good weather with them.

The Twyford Tootlers Open Air Concert at enjoymuzic

The Twyford Tootlers Open Air Concert at enjoymuzic

Don’t miss Rachel and Simon from Dawson Music performing as the Astor Duo at Church of England, Cramlington on Saturday 14th July.  They’ll be performing entirely original arrangements of modern popular music from 1970s until the present day. Music by Bruno Mars, Adele, Stevie Wonder and many more.

More info here…

Focus on Flute

The flute is one of the oldest musical instruments of all and is generally regarded as the first ever wind instrument. It has been in use at least since the Stone Age.  According to studies, 40,000 years ago early modern humans could have spent their evenings sitting around the fire, playing bone flutes and singing songs. The early bone flutes push back the date researchers think human creativity evolved.

Today the flute is still a very popular instrument with youngsters who generally begin to learn from around 8 or 9 years old.  There are many opportunities to learn both at school and through private lessons, not to mention loads of ways to get involved with local orchestras.  In North Tyneside it’s worth checking out the free opportunities for children to get involved in performing through NTMEH.

If you’re interested in private flute lessons in North Tyneside, Newcastle or Northumberland we don’t think you can’t do much better than learning from Rachel Dawson.

Rachel has been teaching for over ten years and has built a busy and varied teaching practice.  She provides tuition from her own studio as well as in several local schools and at the Northern Music Centre in Heaton.  She directs The Twyford Tootlers, an adult flute choir consisting of both concert and harmony flutes.

As well as performing as a soloist, Rachel also performs as part of The Astor Flute and Guitar Duo with husband Simon, and is a founding member of The Astor Chamber Ensemble.

If however, you’re in South Tyneside, Durham or Sunderland we’d absolutely recommend the fab Sweet Symphony School of Music run by the lovely Louise.  They are based in the Washington area and have their own dedicated studios, enthusiastic teachers and a great reputation. Sweet Symphony offer professional and friendly music lessons to students of all ages and abilities, from preschool children to retired adults.

Are flutes expensive?  They can be but don’t have to be; according to reports online the world’s most expensive flute is a Verne Q Powell platinum flute thought to be worth a whopping £134,000!  Back in the real world, our student flute range starts with the John Packer JP011 at just £119. 🙂

 

How to get kids interested in music Part 3 – Teenagers

If your child already plays but is finding it increasingly hard to stay interested, read our top tips for getting them to practice here.

If you’re still hoping to get a teenager to take up the opportunity to learn an instrument before adult life takes over, some serious inspiration is required! Young people aged 11-16 have many more pre-conceived ideas about music than younger children. Any barriers they create are normally driven by peer pressure and the need to fit in. Playing an instrument is often labelled uncool or swotty and it can be hard to keep up when what’s ‘in’ or ‘out’ changes daily.

Live music is probably the biggest inspiration so tickets to a favourite band are a good place to start. This can be very expensive however so if you can’t stretch to it, remember that local bands usually play covers and find someone who is playing music that your teen will enjoy. This often works out well as most musicians you will see playing in coffee houses, shopping areas and pubs/clubs are really approachable and would be very happy to have a chat about what started them off in music and offer some tips. If you’re in the North-East of England, check out On The Case Music’s Gig Guide.

Often, teenagers who take up an instrument are motivated by a desire to learn to play a particular song that they love. You can definitely implant this as a goal if you suggest it casually and/or respond positively if they mention it. Find an online video tutorial if you can which covers the song or artist they’re interested in and offer to rent an instrument or buy a cheap one so they can have a go. Or speak to a teacher about booking a starter block of lessons as a birthday or Christmas gift. If a teenager is going to start taking lessons, it’s really important to find a teacher who is sensitive to their student’s goals and knows how to keep them interested. Your local music shop will be able to help you with this.

If you already have instruments at home, it can seem most economical to try to push your child into learning one of those (especially if you’ve always had a vision of them doing so!). However, teenagers who don’t feel really connected to the instrument they play hardly ever continue long term. If they have a real interest in a particular instrument, try to accommodate it by borrowing or renting initially.

How to get kids interested in music Part 2 – Primary School

Remember that children aged 6-10 tend to have a very narrow view of what ‘music’ is. So far, they have really only experienced classroom singing and whatever artists you enjoy listening to at home. If you would like your child to take more interest in music, take time to explore different styles and different instruments with them and look out for what gets a strong reaction. As well as listening to classical, rock, pop, jazz, film and choral music, watch videos online of people playing instruments and name them together so your child starts to build a picture of how an orchestra, rock band and choir are built and which instruments make the sounds they are most attracted to.

Your primary school child is the perfect age to begin taking weekly lessons on an instrument so once you’ve identified the main candidates, see what opportunities are available through their school. There might be group lessons or a guitar/keyboard club, for example. Schools also increasingly offer ukulele lessons, steel pans and world drumming so listen out for what’s inspiring your kids at school and see if there is a ready made opportunity you can help them to make the most of.

All good music shops will be able to point you in the right direction for private teachers of many different instruments and be able to help you choose someone who is good with children. Often, teachers can offer taster lessons or a meet-up where you and your child can get to know more about them and the instrument they teach to make sure it’s the right one. Also, consider rental schemes through school or your local music shop if you are concerned about buying an instrument straight away. Many children dabble with several instruments before settling on the right one(s) for them.

Playing an instrument isn’t the only route into music. Your child might prefer to sing in a choir or join a stage school to explore their musical potential. Dance is another great creative outlet, and often leads to taking up an instrument later on.

If your children are interested in taking up an instrument and you have any questions or concerns, here at enjoymuzic – your North East Music Shop we’re open 7 days a week and we’re always very happy to have a chat with you.