Oz's drumming class
When my three-year-old and I arrive, about ten children and their parents are gathered in Oz's Music Environment, a huge room filled with just about every instrument you can imagine. The kids range in age from two to six, and some of the younger ones just look about in wonder. Osburn is teaching us a rhythm. Some of the kids, as you can imagine, are eager to bang the drums. "Let me demonstrate," he says. "Please listen." They listen. He demonstrates. We start again. He's handled it much, much better than I would have.
Next, Osburn plays a game with the kids. He gives them each two little sticks to tap together, make shapes, and sing songs. I assume it's to help them gain flexibility and strength in their wrists. Some of the kids try to whack each other with the batons, but Oz scoots them apart.
This October marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of Oz's Music Environment. Yes, Oz's sells instruments next door in the store, but first and foremost Steve Osburn is a teacher. The first twenty-five minutes of a private music session are free of charge, and you can play anything he's got there piano, xylophone, hand drums, violin, a drum kit, guitars, bass. He even has this bizarre and really cool Chapman stick, which I suppose is a cross between a piano and guitar. You don't strum but rather tap the twelve strings. The tapping also gives you a vibrato, unlike a piano, with a range of five octaves, unlike a guitar. Oz plays a bit for us during the class, and it's unlike any other instrument I've ever heard.