The wonderful thing about a drum is that there are no wrong notes. This makes playing successful to anyone who tries it. Who would ever think that giving some drums to a small group of chaotic, unfocused, hyper children could actually pull their attention together and help increase their social skills. Knowing that children automatically speed up and automatically want to bang away as soon as they get the drums, stir some doubts. But with careful management, the magnetic pull of a good beat pulls our brains in its direction. Watch a classroom move in sync as a good beat is pumped into the room. Most all children will move in one way or another. They may all move in a different way, but their movement and attention is pulled to the same direction at once. All are moving at the same time: they can’t help it. Doing this in a fun, game-like way is much easier than trying to “teach” them how to follow a beat or pay attention. “Teaching” requires too much attention on “getting it right,” while playing puts us all on automatic. When children are all beating together, the social skill possibilities are endless; impulse control, attending, focus, listening to others, sequencing, turn-taking, and the list keeps going. Drumming in this way build self-confidence and self esteem and allows safe nonverbal communication. Drumming in this manner simultaneously raises the level, focuses, and contains the children.
The added plus to the scenario is that it leaves little room for interruption and will likely continue in their head after the session ends. Rhythm now creates organization, actually changing a neurological pathway and helping the child focus.
There are also children who have such poor fine motor skills they can barely hold a drumstick. many of these children who are slower at developing these skills are pulled so by the beat that they continue to try until they gradually get there. I have often seen children who begin poking a drum occasionally with the wrong end of a drumstick because of such fine motor delay, hat within one or two sessions are pulled so by the pulse they they are using an alternating hand pattern and beating the drum the right way with delight. Some of the children’s muscles that are too rigid and tight to beat a drum find that an accompanying beat pulls their bodies and arms to move in the direction of the beat with significantly greater ease.
Drumming helps us get out of our own heads. Drumming gets us to play. We are moved to play through the pulsating rhythm. It can not only facilitate physical, but also emotional, cognitive, and neurological change. Playing a beat, coming in the back door, effecting change. Let me know your experiences, how has drumming changed the lives of others?
Antoinette Morrison MT-BC