Some of you may know me, others may not. For those who don't, I'm Danny Jones: singer, songwriter, producer and a member of the band, McFly. This summer I will be fortunate enough to be a coach on ITV's The Voice Kids. My recent experience as a coach hit close to home, and made me want to speak up about the importance of why we MUST support our nation's musically-gifted kids.
I read an article recently by Dr. Ally Daubney of the University of Sussex and she warned us loud and clear that music could face extinction in secondary state schools throughout England. This got me thinking and was a real concern for me. You and I both know that if music is not offered in schools, it's also unlikely to be offered at home. We need to all join forces now in supporting our kids that want to be involved in music. If we don't, we will witness a generation of storytellers and overall trendsetters come and go without leaving its deserved cultural mark on our great nation.
Although the threat of music being eradicated in our schools is becoming more real, we can still help the UK's younger generation leave its deserved cultural mark on this planet regardless of this potential threat. I'm convinced that there are three actions we can take to ensure we are doing everything possible to support the potential in our musically-gifted kids. The first is being vocal about our support. Showing the kids that they are backed every step of the way no matter what, and that we believe in their dream as much as they do.
Secondly, we must re-educate the kids on what failure actually is, and thus why they should not fear failure, whatsoever. Thirdly, we need to help our musically-gifted kids understand how what they learn in school will absolutely apply to their professional musical art in the future. If we can commit to take these three actions, I am confident we can save the next generation of Beatles, David Bowies and Rolling Stones.
Focusing back on my first call to action, when growing up in Bolton where my music teacher gave me an E grade because in his eyes I was "completely disinterested" in music (clearly he didn't realise I had been playing the guitar since I was six years old!), to me, there was no bigger fan than my mum. I remember my mum taking two hour round trips - rain, hail or shine - to get me to guitar lessons once a week. Even better, I'll never forget the time my mum took out a bank loan to buy me and my sister speakers and a PA so we could play the working men's clubs in Manchester. My mum's support for my musical dreams was unwavering. But not everyone is fortunate enough to have that positivity at home.
However, that support doesn't necessarily need to come from our musically-gifted kids' parents, it can come from mentors, family friends, or even better, their teachers; as long as that support is there. All our musically-gifted kids need is one person who cares and who won't project their own personal fears of failing, onto them. YOU can be that person. Trust me, this is coming from the lad whose music tutor told him it was highly unlikely that he would get a record deal... three months before he got a record deal. My support system helped me push through.
Which takes me to my second call to action; we must help our musically-gifted kids get rid of this false sense of failure that I think we all share. The other day I saw a quote that read, "A man can fall many times, but he isn't a failure until he begins to blame somebody else". Or as my granddad used to say, quoting Peter Ustinov, "It's not wrong to fail". The majority of us think that when we set a goal and don't achieve it, that means that we are in someway a failure. Yet, with that mind state, we focus on the goal we did not achieve instead of the lesson learned in the process of, or looking back at, not achieving that goal. We are not going to win every battle, that's not how life works.
However, what we constantly need to do is remind our children that failure is a part of the journey, and it's how you learn from that, that is the difference. The only way our musically-gifted kids are going to wholeheartedly pursue their passion for music is if they walk with an aura of fearlessness, and that aura will only exist if our kids know and recognise that they will never be a failure, no matter what, (unless they blame others for their own missteps). As long as those individuals with musical ambitions are learning, they will never be failures.
Which leads me to my third and final call to action; we must help our musically-gifted kids realise that what they are learning in school has a direct correlation to what they will be doing as professional musicians. The one thing I would look back at now and tell myself as a kid is how much school not only matters, but ties into what I do every single day of my life as a musician.
When I was at school back in Bolton, I would sit in class thinking all day: one, how does this apply to me; and two, when will I ever need this in real life. If only I'd have known how important physics would become when I later needed to understand sound waves and live room basics or how significant maths would be when I began learning about calculating the dynamic of a room to achieve the best possible tuned studio sound. To know that poetry would become my livelihood, that without it I could not have written a single song. To understand that reading books would expand my vocabulary and equip me to write even better and become a storyteller myself. If I knew then, how much school would apply to my craft now, I would have given my full attention, in every... single... subject. It really is up to us to make sure that children understand how vital their education is to give them the best possible chance of succeeding in the creative industries.
That's why I would like to take the time now to officially announce that I have teamed up with the Speakers for Schools charity, and will begin to speak to students in our state secondary schools, to not only encourage our children to pursue their dreams, but to let them know the journey I took to get to where I am and all the lessons I have learned on the way; because I am sure I will see a little bit of myself in each one of them and I hope each of them will see a little of themselves in me. I hope to share my message with headmasters, teachers and parents as well.
My interest in this cause not only stems from once being that young lad in Bolton, praying to make it big; but is also due to the fact I'm a big believer in what the late entertainment executive, Vernon Slaughter, once said about the music business, which was, "There's no losers in this game, only those who quit before their turn comes." We must be supportive of our children, erase their false senses of failure and allow them to realise how important their academic studies are to their passion for music, so that they don't even contemplate for a split second, quitting before their turn comes.