How To Get Your Kids Into Synths
Post date:Tue, 05/22/2018 - 16:10
One of the great things about being a parent is sharing your hobbies with your children and bonding with them over shared interests. Research has shown that it helps to boost the self-esteem of your child and can also help them to learn. While this is great if your hobby consists of cooking, reading, gardening or sewing, it becomes a little tricky if you are passionate about vintage synths. It can be hard enough to convince your significant other that the money you dropped on a Moog Voyager or Korg Kronos was well spent, so the last thing you probably want is sticky little fingers all over your precious gear. If this is the dilemma that you are facing, don't despair as there are actually more affordable ways to get your young ones interested in synths. All of the toys on this list are great for introducing kids to the wonderful world of synths, but watch out if they become hooked, as they might just start eying your expensive vintage gear with a little too much interest!
One of the best ways to get kids interested in something is disguising it as a toy and this is exactly what the Blipblox does. While it might look like one of those cheap Fisher-Price toys that will drive you up the wall with the sounds that it makes, the Blipblox is actually quite a sophisticated piece of tech. It's not going to replace any of your own synths, but lurking beneath the bright, plastic exterior lurks a built-in sequencer, low pass filter, two envelopes, two low frequency oscillators and much more. It is aimed at kids aged three years old and up; enabling them to enjoy synthesis without any music experience.
Are your children starting to outgrow their Lego? Then this neat package from littleBits could be just what you need to bond with them. The littleBits Electronic Synth Kit was co-designed with KORG and features 12 modular pieces that easily snap together magnetically. These pieces, which consists of components like delay, oscillators, synth speakers, filters, micro sequencer and more can then be combined in various different combinations in order to create a unique synth. The whole thing is ready to use out of the box and the booklet that is included will help to get you started. Just be careful as you can purchase additional modules for more audio and visual options, which can turn into an expensive hobby if your children become hooked.
The Tech Will Save Us Synth Kit is another do-it-yourself synthesizer option for kids aged twelve and up. It consists of one kit, with which you'll be able to assemble three different synths by following the instructions. The Synth Kit is great for teaching your children about the different electronic components that make up a synthesizer and how they work together to create sounds. If your kids love tinkering with things and figuring out how they work, then the Synth Kit could keep them busy for hours.
Some people would say that three year olds are too young to enjoy synthesizers, but Dato disagrees. This is why they have created the Dato DUO, which is a synth for two. One side of this funky gadget features the synthesizer where you can play around with filters and effects, while the sequencer side has a two octave minor pentatonic keyboard. The DUO is not as feature packed as a full synthesizer obviously, but it is ridiculously easy to use and able to produce a huge range of sounds. Even better, it has MIDI in and out, SYNC in and out as well as a 3.5mm headphone/line out, so you can hook it up to your modular synth or other hardware as your kids improve in skill.
The Pianocade is an interesting option if your children are video-game fanatics. It is not only designed to look like the real joystick of a vintage arcade game, but also sound like one thanks to the chipetune-style synthesizer. The hardware has a 128-note range, so you can dive right in and start playing retro sounds live. It can also be played via external sequencers and controllers as the Pianocade features both 5-pin MIDI and USB MIDI. The whole thing is also designed for easy hackability, so if you are confident in your DIY skills you can customize it as much as you like. The bad news is that the Pianocade is sold out at the time of writing and the designer has no plans for producing a second run, so if you really want one you are going to have to scour the second hand market.
The five synthesizers mentioned above are definitely some of the more eye-catching and unique offerings on the market, but they are by no means the only ones. If you want to introduce your kids to software synths instead of hardware ones, take a look at options like Fract OSC (http://fractgame.com/), or KORG DS-12 (https://www.nintendo.com/games/detail/EsVE_ldkt5IaTlJYN7iqans9kQaKZgAx). These titles play like traditional video games, but are heavily influenced by synths and can actually teach kids a thing or two about the real instruments. The Pocket Operators range from Teenage Engineering (https://www.teenageengineering.com/products/po) could also serve as a nice introduction to synthesizers for younger people.
Comment below or let us know in the forums what your children think of your passion for synthesizers and if you manage to draw them into the hobby as well.
Child Hand on Piano Close Up image credit: Gavin Whitner (MusicOomph.com)