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Thursday, December 03 2015 10:58

Music & Arts: Important for Schools, Fun for the Holidays...and Great Gifts, too!

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Thanks to The Network Niche, this feature is sponsored by Music & Arts...

Music & ArtsGrowing up as a kid in the 80s, I distinctly remember visiting the music lab at Beacon Hill Elementary School in Chicago Heights, Illinois, learning basic notes on the Recorder, and hoping to one day enter a bigger realm of music. I was big into two artists at the time - Michael Jackson and Huey Lewis and the News - and, maybe it was the artists, maybe it was just the times, but I really wanted to learn the Saxophone. It was offered as an option for the school's band program, but citing the expense, I was not allowed to scratch my musical itch until much later. I was 15 when I bought my first Guitar - an NJ Series B.C. Rich Warlock... the same one that currently hangs here in my office, just feet from where I'm typing these words right now. It was that guitar, purchased with my own money from working at the local Hy-Vee Grocery Store in Davenport, Iowa, that truly opened the door to my life-long musical journey, accompanying me to many gigs throughout the 1990s and beyond. Now, as parents, my wife and I have been eager to support The Rock Daughters™ in their musical exploration starting practically at birth. In a time when arts programs are increasingly cut from school budgets, we're fortunate to have them in our schools, and the folks at Music & Arts exist to support that - offering families a place to buy instruments with confidence and world class service. With the Holiday Season upon us, it's the perfect time to look toward the Music & Arts Holiday Gift Guide (featuring HALESTORM's LZZY HALE and GREAT BIG WORLD) to pick a great gift for the budding player in your family. What would THE ROCK FATHER buy? Here's a few picks that I'm going to include in my own Holiday Wish Guide this year... we're making musical memories every day, perhaps it's time to make some of your own...

THE ROCK FATHER in 1995
THE ROCK FATHER circa 1995. The 90s were a strange place.

B.C. Rich NJ Series Warlock - Like I said, the NJ Series Warlock is the very guitar that I started with. It's somewhat cliche at this point, but it's a very "metal" guitar, and the fact that my high school bedroom featured magazine pinups of Max Cavalera of SEPULTURA and Kerry King of SLAYER rockin' the Warlock probably helped to guide in my own purchase.

THE ROCK FATHER's Peavey Amp...

Peavey Guitar Amplification - While most players (especially those that are learning) could go with a simple, portable, single-speaker all-in-one guitar amp like the one from Peavey that I first owned back in 1992, you could go bigger and do a full Peavey 6505 Head + 4x12 Half-Stack like I'd buy in 2015. They last, too! Here's "old faithful," the Peavey Half-Stack that's rocked stages with yours truly since the mid-1990s...

A video posted by James Zahn (@therockfather) on

Back in 2013 when Addie learned of the DOC McSTUFFINS/LETTERS TO CLEO connection.

Daisy Rock Pixie Guitar Starter Pack - Tish Ciravolo's Daisy Rock Girl Guitars pioneered "lighter weight, slimmer neck" guitars built with the female player in mind. They also look really cool, and for young learners like our own girls, a starter pack is a great way to go - an affordable way to get kids rockin' with an acoustic guitar, strap, picks, gig bag, an instructional DVD and more - all for under $300 bucks! Addie needs an upgrade from what she's got (video up top) so Daisy Rock is definitely on our list.

Addie (back in 2011) rockin' the drums!
Addie rockin' the drums back in 2011

Sound Percussion Labs 5-Piece Complete Drum Kit - We have a five-piece Mapex Drum Set here in the garage at Rock Father HQ, and while Music & Arts does have a great selection of Mapex drums and accessories, parents that want to start smaller to test the waters should look toward an affordable kit from Sound Percussion Labs - a featured choice in the Music & Arts Gift Guide. You can get complete SPL kits with all the drums, cymbals and hardware for a price that hardly breaks the bank - $299-$399.

Addie rockin' the Shure Super 55
Addie rockin' the Shure Super 55 mic on Christmas Day 2011!

Shure Super 55 Dynamic Microphone - The Super 55 is a genuine classic in both function and appearance. This vintage style microphone is great for stage or rehearsal - even podcasters use it these days! It's a best-seller at Music & Arts, and I just had to dig up a picture of little Addie rockin' the mic in my sister's practice space four years ago.

Finn playing drums
Little Finley playing the drums in 2015

While those are just a few "Rock Father Picks," Music & Arts has a full selection of thousands of instruments available for any budget or skill level. Check them out here, and start making some musical memories for your little ones this Holiday Season! Already a player? It's always a great time to Upgrade Your Sound as well!

James Zahn

James Zahn is best-known as The Rock Father™, a media personality, commentator, adventurer and raconteur. He is the Owner, Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief of THE ROCK FATHER™ Magazine. In January, 2019, after nearly a decade of publishing The Rock Father™ Magazine, he joined Adventure Media and Events as Senior Editor of The Toy Book—the leading trade publication for the toy industry since 1984, as well as The Pop Insider — a destination for all things pop culture, and The Toy Insider — the leading consumer guide for toys and games. He is also editor of The Toy Report, a weekly newsletter published by The Toy Book each Thursday. Zahn has over 27 years of experience in the entertainment, retail and publishing industries.

He regularly serves as a Brand Ambassador and spokesperson for several Globally-recognized pop culture and lifestyle brands in addition to consulting for a number of toy manufacturers. 

Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for bands such as FEAR FACTORY, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands. He currently serves as an artist manager and video director for PRODUCT OF HATE, whose debut album was released by Napalm Records in 2016, distributed by ADA/Warner Music in the U.S. with Universal Music handling global. A new album has been completed and is set for release this year.

Zahn and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, NBC, ABC, WGN, CBS, GCTN, G4, The Chicago Tribune, Forbes, MarketWatch, Reuters, BusinessWire, Fangoria, Starlog and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360 alongside Anderson Cooper, and has been interviewed by Larry King. In the past he served as a writer for the Netflix Stream Team,  Fandango Family and PBS KIDS, penned articles for Sprout and PopSugar, and was a contributor to Chicago Parent.

Learn more here

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