The BeatBuds are Your New House Band

By Michael Berick

Jonathan Jonah and Matthew Shapiro are best BeatBuds. PHOTO COURTESY THE BEATBUDS

Jonathan Jonah and Matthew Shapiro are best BeatBuds. PHOTO COURTESY THE BEATBUDS

Whether you know them as Jonathan Jonah and Matthew Shapiro, Jonny Jingles and Matty Maracas or just the two dudes in the BeatBuds, these two guys are all about the music. For the past few years, this local duo has been a popular presence in the local family music scene. Besides playing all around Southern California, these two childhood friends also have also started doing in-home jam sessions. In these sessions, which are part house concert and part music class, the BeatBuds play tunes and do a little music education for groups of around eight kids ages 6 months to 6 years.

We chatted about this new brand of jam.

Can you describe what an In-Home Jam Session is about?

Through the use of our original, educationally based songs played for the children in a low-volume, acoustic format, the BeatBuds introduce children to the basic components of music, including rhythm, melody and dynamics. We aim to create an interactive experience that focuses on getting the children to make music with us in a very real and communal way. The BeatBuds in-home jam session is a group experience that solidifies the bond between parent and child, aims to give your child a basic understanding of music, and exercises your child’s ability to comfortably express himself or herself within a group setting.

Because the in-home jam sessions consist of multiple classes and a more intimate group, we are able to spread our educational wings further, digging deeper into the music and exposing the children to more music. We like the children to hear different styles of music and get the chance to see and hear the specific musical instruments related to that style.

How do you two think it is unique among music classes?

Children can see and hear not only how we play together, but also how communal, expressive and fun playing and experiencing music can be. Because The BeatBuds play less than one foot from the kids, we truly develop a special relationship with the kids that we never take for granted. By constantly bringing out new instruments for the kids to play with, we also guide them through the class, always enforcing that their involvement is the reason why it sounds as cool as it does.

What are some of the things that you have found especially gratifying with these music classes?

The most gratifying thing we have experienced with these music classes is watching the progress the children have made from beginning to end. There are cases where we see a child start off incredibly reserved and finish off as the most outgoing kid in the class. But more often, we cherish the moments when we see a child who wouldn’t initially make eye contact with us, to find that a couple weeks later he or she is popping up off Mom’s lap to come right to us to grab the next instrument. As much as we focus on giving the children a basic understanding of music, we believe that having fun with music is the most important thing.

And do you two have a particular mission that you want to accomplish with kids through these classes?

Our mission, first and foremost, is to expose young children to music and music making so they can enjoy a fun, expressive outlet for a lifetime. Secondly, we know that it all starts here, and if we can give them a great time with our educational music and class, they will begin to develop an aptitude for music as well as sharpen their social skills.

Our ultimate goal, no matter what, is to bring a fresh approach to children’s music and the children’s music experience. We hope that our music, classes, performances, and other BeatBuds products in development can bring families together for not only a fun music experience through various media, but can also help make sure that music maintains a strong position in early education. As youngsters, music gave us a creative outlet that was fun, challenging, and ongoing. Today it continues to be fun, challenging, and ongoing, and as facilitators in The BeatBuds, we hope to give the power of music to as many children as we can.

Michael Berick is Calendar Editor of L.A. Parent.

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