NAMM Unveils ‘Recreational Music Making Program’
New Approach Aims to Expand Market Touting Health Benefits
At a press conference during the NAMM Show, NAMM advisors Dr. Barry Bittman and Karl Bruhn unveiled the new Web site plans for the organizations new Recreational Music Making program (RMM). An outreach to promote music making, they look to the new site (http://rmm.namm.org) to eventually receive a million hits a month.
This program does not intend to diminish the importance of formal music education, and will not compete or replace traditional music instruction, Bruhn, a long-time industry professional working with NAMMs education foundation and a member of the NAMM Foundation Research Division, said. And this is not a dumbing down of the curriculum, but will serve an underserved part of the market. This program delivers a compelling new message to the general public and will raise the awareness of the proven benefits of music making.
The central objectives of the program include:
- To effectively disseminate the latest RMM research findings throughout the world.
- To ensure up-to-date information regarding the latest scientific advancement in the RMM field.
- To link research institutes and NAMM members supporting projects that will help extend the benefits of RMM.
Bruhn went so far as to say while we have never thought of music making in the same category as, say, yoga, perhaps its time we should.
Focus on Market Expansion
This program focuses on expanding a vast market that has thus far eluded the industry the preponderance of people who never enter a music store but have a general desire to play an instrument yet have yet to start to play.
Educating the public on the benefits RMM activities such as the drum circle, keyboard lessons for seniors, music programs for preschoolers, Weekend Warrior programs, etc., will be done largely through the Web site. The sites sections include News, Lifestyles, Community, Research, Learning Center, and Facilitator Corner. NAMM members will also have access to a special section that will include sensitive information like how a dealer can use these programs to boost their bottom line and expand their sales.
The need to create a new type of music maker is very real Bruhn said, and weve not done as good a job as we should in educating people about the benefits of casual music making. He offered an analogy of sorts: After World War II, Brunswick opened bowling alleys across the nation, but the people didnt come at first. They did research and it turned out people did not consider themselves a bowler until they broke 100. Once they crossed that threshold, then they would buy bowling balls, shoes, join leagues, etc.
We dont have a 100 threshold, Bruhn said. So Recreational Music Making as a concept needs to be sold, a task NAMM feels is easier with the increasing amount of research available on the health benefits gained from making music a part of ones life. For those over 60, the questions are how long will they live, how long will they have their health, how long will the money last we have something to promote to them: simply music-making is good for your health. And we have the bullet-proof [facts] that shows it.
Seventy-percent of doctor visits are because of stress-related issues, Bittman said. Stress reduction is possible with recreational music making. And it doesnt have any side effects. This is information that can all be used on the sales floor, but the retailers need to get familiar with it. Bittman, a neurologist, author, and the head of the Mind Body Wellness Center, has researched, lectured and written about the health benefits of music making.
Bittman cautioned not to oversell the health benefits though. We need to recognize that over the years there has been absurd promotions play the trumpet and youll cure cancer! But weve never really talked about the benefit of music making, and theres interest in wellness that has never existed before.
To help the dealers and potential RMM customers get familiar with the information, the site will supply the articles in simple, easy-to-print PDF files. By providing these documents to music dealers, the retailer can not only discuss the health benefits to a customer, but offer documentation for him or her explaining the research behind it. Theres a wealth of information available on this site and well continually be adding more, in addition to information about how to grow your business through recreational music, Bittman noted.
The idea is to push fence-sitters into music by promoting mounting evidence of its value in terms of wellness. Bittman provided a hypothetical: Say a music sales rep in Boise, Idaho, is talking to someone who says, Im 85 years oldIm too old to play music. The sales rep will then be able to go over to the computer, click on a PDF article about 80-year-olds enjoying music and the benefits that come with it, print it, and hand it to the customer.
Driving Traffic to the Stores
It was asked how those not already in a music store might get inspired to go to the site. Bittman said it would be listed with all the major search engines. Also NAMM has been in discussion with the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) and they are expected to get involved, Bruhn said.
He added that dealers who work with their local doctors by letting them know of their programs would help, too, saying, Collaborations are extraordinarily important. Physicians are typically open to music making opportunities. Bittman also tied this into the host of music making grants available.
For those potential customers who go to the site first, theyll be information on particular programs drum circles, Weekend Warriors, etc. that will be featured on a rotating basis. Theyll also be a NAMM dealer locator, where he or she can find out a local dealer who is providing a recreational music program.
Never has there been a senior boom before and we dont know how to deal with it, Bruhn said. Now there is a market for recreational music making, and their needs to be creative thinking, new educational program, and teachers and facilitators who understand how to reach the market.
I would hope that by the end of the year there are at least 100 programs available to get connected with, Bittman said. You will have a description of your program or programs on your site with a direct link from the rmm.namm.org site. Also there will be recreational music-making blogs, discussion forums, and places where people in the industry can sound off so we can grow this entire project. The opportunity is vast, and the site will generate tons of content as people will want to come back on it and see what is there on a daily basis.
A NAMM find a facilitator tool has been established and theyve already gathered over 250 interested qualified facilitators. Those interested in becoming a facilitator can send Bittman information on the program they would like to start, how they would facilitate it, and their qualifications.
This is important to the industry, said Bruhn. Its a different way of looking at things. The healthier we are the better, and recreational music will help lead us there.