Staff In The Spotlight: Matt Palmer
Author: Mark RobinsonInspire First, Teach Second. It’s one of Rocksteady’s core beliefs about the way music should be taught. At Rocksteady we take this seriously, and there’s perhaps no better demonstration that our assembly and workshop days.
Our most recent full time inspirer Matt Palmer, played at Rocksteady’s first battle of the bands as a student many years ago. Now, he visits a new school almost every day and shares his enthusiasm for playing in a band with upwards of 40,000 children per year. He has more energy than any child you’ll ever meet, can play a range of instruments and his personality is almost as large as his hair. To top it off, he’s the loudest person we’ve ever known!
As the children walk in, he picks up his guitar and plays and sings, to create the right atmosphere from the word go. At the time of writing, his repertoire include songs by Bruno Mars, Ellie Goulding and the Pharel Williams. Not his personal favorites necessarily, but songs children can and do sing a long to. He insists on it.
‘When I was younger, it was all about being in my band and trying to become famous’ says Matt. ‘Now I play in my band for fun but still get to be a rockstar everyday to the kids I see.’ He’s right, to the children as they walk into the hall, this as close to a rockstar as most of them have witnessed in the flesh. He takes this responsibility very seriously. ‘It’s my job to entertain them, but also to inspire them. They could all become musicians if they wanted to be. It’s my job to show them they can.’
And show them he does. After playing them all in, he greets them.
‘This assembly is all about music!’ he shouts. The windows rattle.
‘It’s about picking your favourite instrument, playing in bands and having fun!’
The children go wild, but he only needs to step forward and put his finger on his lips for silence to fall over the room. They’re in the palm of his hands, not because he’s enforced any sort of discipline, but because they really want to know what he’s going to say next.
He shows them the electric guitar and how loud the amplifier can go. He shows them drums and drum solos, teaching the children to clap along during the beats and cheer when he plays fast drum fills. He plays Adele songs on the keyboard and demonstrates how to use a microphone properly if you want to be ‘the most important person in the band’! All the while, he’s encouraging them to think about which instrument they would like to play if they could. ‘What part would you like to play in a band?’
By the time the workshops come along later in the day and the children have a go themselves, they’re hanging on every word. They learn about the importance of listening and playing in time. They learn about playing the same notes as the other instruments and making sure they happen at exactly the right time. They learn the importance of singing like you mean it and the basics of stage presence. They have a great experience and take home lessons about playing an instrument they’ll remember.
And they remember them because Matt took the time to make sure they were inspired first.
Do you see yourself inspiring the next generation of musicians? We’re now recruiting across the south of England. Click here to find out more.