There’s something about a mini human playing a drum. It doesn’t matter whether they’re bashing away to Avenged Sevenfold, Offenbach or the Foo Fighters, people really seem to get their kicks watching a kid pick up the sticks (sorry).
But what is it about a child hitting a drum kit that is so endlessly fascinating to us? Why does little Avery Molek manage to draw almost 3 and a half million YouTube hits for playing along to a Guns N Roses tune?
Yes, it’s novel, but surely there’s some deeper psychological, primal reason behind our desire to see children playing the drums.
Cute kittens and puppies are guaranteed to get our attention, but what is it about kid drummers that is so captivating? Turns out, there’s a psychological explanation.
Like puppies wearing costumes, or finding the face of Jesus in a slice of Vegemite toast, adults past a certain age love to see anything that humanises the world a little more for us.
Not only are kids playing drums just plain adorable, but we can relate to them on a deeper level — even if we can’t play drums ourselves. Seeing children doing adult things is a way for us to gain access to the children, to imagine them as the humans they actually are. It’s kind of like how we anthropomorphise animals to better understand them.
Most of us probably have vague, not really fully-formed memories of being a kid; it’s about as easy to relate to a kid as it is to a cat on a treadmill or a puppy in a bear costume. Just as when animals do human things, when children do ‘adult’ things like play drums, we can relate to them.
This probably also has something to do with the fact that these kids presumably aren’t too conscious of what they’re doing. They’re not thinking about how much they love Lars Ulrich’s sick beats as the play away to Master of Puppets.
They’re not thinking about the megawatt career they could have if they can find the right people to start a band with. They don’t even give a crap if this video gets them millions of hits and earns their parents some sweet, sweet cash.
To us, they are literally just playing. They are doing it without thought or consequence, purely for the fun of it (or because their stage parents are making them).
This especially rings true for those of us who don’t have kids ourselves. When you’re never really around them at this formative time, it’s really hard to picture them contributing anything of real value to society. They don’t have jobs, they can’t hold a proper conversation, and if you asked them for a cup of tea, they probably wouldn’t be able to help you out.
The very least they could do is perform for us, like animals at a zoo.
In the early 1900s, the New York Zoo kept an African man on display for a short period of time. Because the citizens of the city couldn’t relate to this man who didn’t speak their language or wear their clothes, and had teeth shaved into points, they were able to distance themselves from the man; pretend that he was from a different species altogether.
Is this what we are doing to children by forcing them to play their drums until their hands bleed and they have tinnitus from their parent’s favourite hair metal band being pumped at full volume 24/7?
While not much research has been done into why we can’t look away from these little bundles of cute playing drums (see also: babies in tunnels), a recent study into our responses to adorable fluffy animals might go some way to explain our reactions.
Apparently, our overwhelming desire to squish and go ga-ga at anything at this insane level of cute can be traced back to a primal frustration: the desire to take care of this small, helpless, yet utterly loveable creature and the fact that we can’t (because the child is inside the screen, also probably not yours to take care of).
We may never know what deep primal instinct is tapped into when we watch little Jonah Rocks playing System of a Down. Perhaps we’ll spend a lifetime wondering why we just can’t get enough of Cole Crader channelling Green Day‘s Tre Cool as he bangs away to Boulevard of Broken Dreams. And we might live in the dark forevermore as to the reason behind our secret love for this kid whose drum kit is actually a washing machine.
But we do know this: tiny humans doing this very adult thing is awesome. And more than anything, we’re probably just insanely jealous of their mad skills.