As we venture into Kenya, the Zebras, Giraffes, Agents, Alligators, Owls, Bears, Labs, Penguins, Mustangs, and Explorers students are learning how to play the drum in two ways: playing in the middle and playing on the side/rim of the drum with their hands. The drum makes two distinct sounds when played in the middle and on the side.
Last week, students took turns on the tubano drum and it was challenging for students to try to place their hands on the rim. Many of them imitated me, taking my perspective on the side of the rim. They played the rim that was across from them instead of in front of them (playing the rim from my view). It took a lot of hand-eye coordination, some hand-over-hand assistance, and focus to play on the side of the drum. Some students were accustomed to playing fast with two hands sharing the drum head space. They worked on slowing down the beats and playing purposefully rather than automatically.
To help, I spoke “middle, middle, side, side” in a rhythm for students to practice the location of their hits. After practicing on the tubano drum as a group, they got to try playing the middle and side by themselves on their own smaller drum. Students were not used to playing the drum with their hands without a mallet. I shared that if their hands were hurting, they were playing too hard or if they could not hear their neighbor, they were drumming too loud. These guidelines helped students play at an appropriate volume and force. No one has complained of sore hands or ears!
Now, we have begun playing together the pattern of “middle, middle, side, side “on our individual drums. In some classes, students successfully play the pattern and can play it fast together. They enjoy it and recognize that we are making a cool rhythmic sound. Some students even dance in their seats while playing. The music moves them!