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Will Norwich music shop hit the right notes in push to get more children playing an instrument?

Ben Homan, technician and guitar sales lead at Cookes in Norwich. The company is encouraging more children to take up a musical intrument. Picture: Bethany Whymark

Ben Homan, technician and guitar sales lead at Cookes in Norwich. The company is encouraging more children to take up a musical intrument. Picture: Bethany Whymark

Archant

In an age where electronic music seems to be taking over, a Norwich music shop is encouraging more families to help their children pick up an instrument.

In response to a recent drop in sales of half and three-quarter size guitars, Cookes Band Instruments in St Benedicts Street is launching a drive to get more children playing an instrument.

Ben Homan, technician and guitar sales lead at Cookes, said: “Normally at this time of year, certainly after the schools start back in September, we cannot get enough half and three-quarter size guitars. It is not unusual for us to sell half a dozen of each size in a day, but we have noticed that those numbers have been declining.

“I don’t think the schools are necessarily given the budget or the support to be able to offer as many instrumental lessons as they used to.

“We are affiliated with various drum and guitar teachers in the area too. They are noticing that the budgets are becoming smaller and the uptake rate of kids signing up for their lessons is getting less and less.”

Mr Homan said that, while musicians like Ed Sheeran were re-popularising the guitar for youngsters, the prevalence of electronic music in the charts could be having an effect on the desire to pick up a physical instrument.

“A lot of the music that is being streamed has been created electronically rather than being recorded,” he said.

“As kids spend more time with electronic devices and they can download apps to create music with, we wonder whether that has an effect on whether they want to play an instrument. Technology is changing the physicality of music.”

He added: “Our main business at Cookes is physical instruments but we have to embrace technology as well.

Mr Homan said that if children show a “genuine interest” in learning a musical instrument, it should be encouraged by family members.

“If they have got a desire to do it in the first place we have to show them what they can do, and make us an approachable place they can come and ask questions,” he said.

“It is about nurturing the desire to learn.

“We love it when we can get bums off seats and into the shop to show people what our instruments can actually do.”

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