Noisy Toys interviews:
Larry "Link" Linkin, President & CEO NAMM,
(International Music Products Association)
NT: What is NAMM?
Linkin: We've been around since 1901. We're an association made up of musical instrument retailers throughout the United States as well as the world. We also represent the manufacturers and distributors, which is a little different than most associations, which concentrate on one or the other. Since we're kind of small, we decided that having everyone together would make a lot of common sense and we could work together on various programs.
NT: NAMM supports several music education programs. Tell us about "Charlie Horse Music Pizza", the PBS program starring the late Shari Lewis and her puppet Charlie Horse.
Linkin: The purpose of our association is to create more music makers. We were very enthusiastic about working with Shari and KCET and Golden Books to support this half hour children's program mainly focused on musical instruments and music and the wonderful positive effect on young people.
NT: One of the themes of the NAMM convention is "Making Music Makes You Smarter." Please explain.
Linkin: We now have fistfulls of scientific evidence that prove that young people who study and perform music do better in math and sciences and other areas of learning. Many us us have felt this for quite a few years, but now we do have scientific evidence that proves that this does happen. The physical coordination is also enhanced. Students do much better on SAT scores and we want to let mothers and fathers know about this.
NT: How early can kids start learning to play instruments?
Linkin: There are some instruments that require you grow to be a certain size and that your muscles are developed to play them. But there are others easily learned by children as young as 2 or 3, like a kazoo or a recorder. Most young people start band and orchestra instruments when they're in 5th, 6th or 7th grade. But you can start at any time.
NT: Another program NAMM supports is the VH 1 "Save the Music Program." Tell us about that program.
Linkin: VH1 President John Sykes is a drummer and he was the principal for a day at one of the schools in New York City. He realized the Music Department was non-existent so he contacted us to help him to provide instruments for students who really couldn't afford them. We were able to get new and used instruments donated to the school system with a total value worth over a million dollars. We're expanding the program to other cities, including Los Angeles. Individuals can also donate instruments.
NT: Another popular program NAMM supports is the "Weekend Warriors."
Linkin: This was started by one of our former board members, Skip Maggiora, in the Sacramento area. We were able to convince Skip to license this idea to NAMM so we could spread it throughout the United States and Canada. It allows people who may have played in bands in the 60's and 70's and have graduated from college and gone on to start families to have the opportunity to rekindle their talents.The local retailer has instructors who counsel the band on some songs and what to do. The retailer also gets a venue... a local club... to perform at, where family and friends can come to hear them. It's a wonderful program and it's quite diverse. It's not restricted to guitar, bass and drums... it's whatever instruments you have.
NT: What a great idea! It seems like there's also a growing interest to use music for stress- reduction and therapy... especially drumming and drum circles.
Linkin: Drum circles have become a very popular and very beneficial activity. We have had one at our trade show for people within the music products business to participate in so they can feel what it's like. Every year it gets larger and larger because the word is out. It's a very interesting, fun activity.
The music therapists, which is another important organization in the United States, are discovering daily that music indeed helps people. One area in particular is with Alzheimers patients. There is something about music that gets through and they continue to research this area of music and medicine and are finding some wonderful benefits.
NAMM is headquartered in Carlsbad, California.
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