By Kristen Parker
While the percentage of families diving into homeschooling is on the rise, James and Jennifer Purcell are seasoned veterans. From the time their oldest son, Jamie, was born (now 16 years old), they have been a homeschooling family. Quick to point out that people choose to homeschool for many reasons, James explained, “For us, it ultimately came down to being in control of our time, our family’s future and our kid’s future. We wanted to be responsible for their upbringing, and the only way we felt like we could fully be in control was to be in control of their days, their education and their activities.”
Part of the educational experience they wanted for their children included character building. “We tried many sports with each of the kids, but it became clear that sports weren’t their thing,” said James. “We wanted them to be involved in an activity that was difficult, an activity that would require their time, effort and energy to master.”
However, never in their wildest dreams did they fathom it would lead them to where they are currently.
Their journey began when son Logan came to them a few years ago, a time in which video games such as Rock Band and Guitar Hero were increasing in popularity. Logan said, “My friends all think they can play the guitar because they can play these games. Wouldn’t it be cool if I really could play guitar?”
At that point, they bought an inexpensive guitar for Logan, and as James freely admits, “I gave him the most basic and boring exercises to play for six months before we made the investment in lessons.” This tested Logan’s level of commitment to the guitar.
After six months of practicing on his own, he was still passionate about learning to play the guitar. The Purcells enrolled him in lessons at GuitarWorks. Soon after that, he was involved with a program there called “Band Builders”; seeing Logan perform on stage with a band then sparked the interest of his brothers, Jamie and Matthew.
They, too, earned lessons after six months of practicing on their own: Jamie on bass guitar and Matthew on drums. Soon the three boys began playing together as a band, as well as taking lessons. Their dad played guitar in high school and has an extensive knowledge of music. “You could just tell when they put their hands on their instruments that they had a natural ability to play,” he said. “From the first time they played together, they were tight.”
The band, playing under the name “The Perfect Dream” (formerly “Silver from the Flames”), consider themselves to be modern rock but don’t really want to be pigeonholed into any one category. “We want to make encouraging music that caters to everyone’s taste. We don’t really want to put a label on it,” said Logan. “We try to do a lot of different things but are probably rock and roll at the core,” Jamie added.
Within the past year, they increased in size with the addition of their sister, Ella, on bass. Jamie has taken on the role of lead singer; however, he continues to play bass for the worship band at church. “It’s fun to be in the band with my brothers,” Ella said. “I don’t take lessons, but they catch me up.”
In addition to teaching their sister the bass guitar, the boys also work hard writing the band’s music. Their albums include only their original songs (however, they do incorporate a cover song or two during live performances). For their original material, Jamie and Logan write the majority of the lyrics, Logan writes the music and Matthew writes the drum parts. Their parents help them refine the songs and achieve the finished product.
As the band continues to gain notoriety, they have had the opportunity to experience things most people don’t. “Like meeting the people who are big influences on us like Disciple,” said Logan. “And being able to do what I love the most,” said Jamie. “My head is constantly filled with songs, and I listen to music all the time, but being able to make my own music is awesome.”
However, they admit that it’s not always easy to be part of the band. “Whenever we go anywhere, we have to strike our gear, pack our gear and set up the venue. And when it’s over, we have to tear it all down,” said Matthew. “And sometimes after a show, it’s hard to maintain a cheery attitude on the exterior when you’re tired and don’t necessarily want to pose for a bunch of pictures,” said Logan.
In spite of these and other difficulties, they are willing to ride this adventure as far as it will go. “I hope we get really big and reach a lot of people with our music, but regardless, I want to take pride in our experience no matter what happens,” said Logan.
In addition, they are all making career plans for the future, just in case the band doesn’t continue for the long haul. As Jennifer explained, “They’re trying to create careers for themselves; they love being in the band, but they have goals beyond playing on a stage.”
“I love being in the band, but part of me also wants a regular life: go to college, have a job. But if something big happens to us, we’ll see,” expressed Jamie. In addition, Jamie is currently studying website and logo development.
Logan is learning how to record and produce music. “He studied production under Micah Powers, the producer of their debut CD; Logan’s going to produce the next one,” said James. Logan also has his sights set on the Berklee College of Music.
They agree that they would not be able to have this kind of opportunity to play together, write songs and travel together if they had a traditional school experience instead of homeschooling. “If they went to public school, I can’t imagine that they would be to this level, although [I know] that top athletes practice just as hard as our kids. It just wouldn’t look the way it looks because of the flexibility of our schedule, and I have trouble imagining life any other way,” said James.
To hear and download their music free, you can visit theperfectdream.bandcamp.com. By attending a show, guests receive a code for a free download.
About Kristen Parker
A life-time resident of the Center Grove area, Kris graduated from IU Bloomington with a degree in Journalism. She is the blessed mother of two active, home-schooled boys, and is passionate about her faith, her family and making her budget stretch.