Harrison-Uke Frank is a songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, musician, music teacher/instructor, and entrepreneur who has over the years exploited music in grooming children and persons willing to learn both the theory and practical aspects of music. He grooms Emerald Schools’ choir, orchestra/band Ogun state and presents children for school programs
His ability to see through every child and his passion for children’s growth musically has made him venture into projects that bring children into the musical spotlight.
In this interview with DAYO EMMANUEL, he relays his forthcoming children’s concert to commemorate the 2022 Children’s Day celebration on May 28 and how he incorporates children with disabilities; by using music to reshape their world.
Question: What brought about your idea for this children’s concert?
Response: It was conceived out of a need to create a platform that will engage the children in activities that will build their self-esteem and move them away from negative social vices. Most of these talented children only have school or church platforms which sometimes restrict their creativity and talents.
I believe one of the significant reasons the trend is going up is because there is no platform for these children to perform at a young age. They are only confined to adult content and that is why they will go online to websites they are not supposed to go. I believe that having this kind of concert will go a long way to putting them in to spotlight and encourage them to do more. As they participate in the concert, it exposes them to great people that will even want to take them to a greater height.
These children have been groomed to excellently perform very well. We have a whole lot of talented children that we believe will take the industry by storm. When you watch these children, you will know they are talents that need to be taken to greater levels. We expect to do much more than what we have done in the past.
Question: Your organisation did tremendously well with the 13-year-old girl Iseoluwa in 2017, should we expect that this children’s day concert will produce outstanding children?
Response: Yes, we believe so because of the kind of training we are giving to them. We are also glad to be presenting a young lad at this year’s concert. He is one of the many children with disabilities we have worked on over the years His name is Mayowa, and we believe his performance will be fun to watch and this will really help to boost his self-esteem.
He is going to be doing very well because in the rehearsal he has shown a whole lot of improvement which has helped other activities. We believe that music will make him improve.
Question: What disability does Mayowa have and how easy is it working with him?
Response: Mayowa has what is called Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, which is known as ADHD. This condition makes children have an average IQ and have difficulty in interacting and communicating with people. It’s been very wonderful working with Mayowa because we understand his condition though we work with a therapist who works with him also. We collaborate in giving him the best. He’s been wonderful, Mayowa is fun to work with, we understand each of his tendencies and how he interacts with things. We understand how he reacts to things, which has really helped us work with him. When it comes to music, even when he has difficulties with other things, it is just like he is being reset, music resets him. Mayowa is a child we are opportuned to teach in school also. Even while a teacher is teaching him, he may just be singing. So we saw that this boy’s interest is in music. The best thing with this kind of children is to know their interests and capitalize on it. That is what we have been able to do with Mayowa.
I will also like to state that we met Mayowa in Emerald schools in Ogun state where he attended. This school has the facility to accommodate children with disabilities and this really helped him to be able to do great exploit, and because of our passion for children, we were able to go the extra mile with the help of the parents. Teaching Mayowa has been very good and we have to continue with it as he’s been very good all the way.
Question: What is your counsel to parents of children with disabilities?
Response: My advice to parents of children with disabilities is that they should come all out to bring the children out and expose them to things that will make them great. The fact that they have special needs doesn’t mean that they should be confined. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, they should come out. These children definitely have what can help them. Music can help them, they should bring them out. So we can see what and how we can help them and believe they will get better with time.
Mayowa’s parents have really been helpful in making our teaching easier. They follow up on whatever he learns. They even most times create time to participate in the learning. We want to use this to encourage other parents in the future who have children with autism and disabilities to at least come forward with their children and believe they can excel in the future.
Question: What other thing(s) about the program do you want to tell Nigerians?
Response: Music is fun, it’s going to be a maiden edition. We look beyond doing it for Children’s Day. It is going to continue, it is a continuous platform where children can always come to showcase their talents. It could be quarterly or yearly. We hope it will keep expanding. We are looking for sponsors to partner with us in the nearest future so that we can be able to make it bigger and I want to assure people that we are building up content that will actually engage these children such that the whole society will be glad that we did.
Question: I noticed that child-friendly music has gone into extinction in Nigeria, even at children’s parties today, what you’ll likely hear is such unfriendly and unsafe music. As a songwriter and music producer, does this bother you and what solution do you have for this concern?
Response: Yes it’s part of the reasons for our brand. After this, we intend to create musical content and record singles/EPs/albums for some of these children. Part of the reason for the extinction of children’s music started even from parents who we believe consciously or unconsciously expose these children to such, wanting them to flow with the latest trend. Hence we hope to identify the parents who key into our vision
As it goes we hope to do school concert tours using any of the children recorded after which we do media hypes and promotions that will make the songs household songs.
Question: Lastly, Mayowa may have been fortunate to have comfortable parents, what happens to his counterparts from poor homes; do you have any method to factor special children from poor homes?
Response: We hope to extend this gesture to children from poor backgrounds as well. In the next edition, we are hoping to bring more children as we have more funds to work with.
PS: Disabled boy is an identity-first language used to describe Mayowa in the headline. Identity-first language is a language that leads with a person’s diagnosis, such as being a disabled person while Person-first language is a language that puts a person before their diagnosis, such as being a person with a disability. Identity-first language is mostly used in the UK.