Friday, 03 March 2023 02:24

Getting in the Groove

Written by Sally Dennis
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     The OG finished up our hand drumming residency yesterday. We started meeting weekly for hand drumming way back in September and have had the joy of beating out rhythms together almost every week since then. The children have played djembes, congas, and dunduns.

     Our instruction started with learning about where these drums originated and how and why they made their way to the United States. Mindful of this terrible history, we also experienced the delight that arises from hearing a drum call us together and the power of playing as a group. Our drumming was free and joyful. A statement of community and togetherness.

     After winter break, we focused more on precision. We repeated rhythms until everyone was, mostly, playing in sync. Once we were all locked into the same rhythm, and playing as one, then we could combine rhythms. We could add layers, players could “step to the other side” and our playing filled out and got more complex. The trick is to hold your own part, your own voice, while staying together as a group.

     Group drumming is a metaphor for so much of the work we do at the Antioch School, freedom within structure, process over product, and hands-on, physical, joyful learning. As a teacher, my big take-away from drumming this year is the invaluable need to first establish safety in the community through positive group experiences and scaffolding a common foundation. Children must listen to one another and be confident in themselves to find the rhythm and ease of being together. Then they can listen to one another and be confident in themselves while holding true to their own part, their own voice, even if it differs from the other voices in the group.


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