A place for teachers to discuss issues to do with teaching
By grache01
#28222
I work with children preK-6th grade and am always looking for new ideas on drum circle facilitation...

So far I have been using facilitation techniques and drum games from Arthur Hall and Dave Holland, at the recommendation of my teacher.

I'm curious to ask, in a forum where much discussion is on the traditional, what recommendations people might have for drum circle facilitation techniques in the realm of the non-traditional. Are there certain games or activities that you weave into a drum circle and find successful when working in that capacity? Are there certain books that you might refer me to?

Thanks for your ideas! :)

Heather
Gettysburg, PA
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By Carl
#28235
Heather,

A few questions....

Is this school based? if so, are you attempting any curriculum integration? If not, it is something well worth looking into.

What is the goal of the circle? introduction to drumming generally? are you trying to develop any specific skill sets?

Finally, have you designed any of your own techniques yet? if so, could you give an example?

Carl
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By Waraba
#28296
I've done this: tell an African folktale to the kids, then retell it, this time adding sound effects with the drums. Each animal, for example, got a different rhythm when he/she appeared in the story. Was a good way to introduce traditional accompaniment parts in a fun way (the elephant got yankadi, the leopard sugu).
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By Waraba
#28333
Michi, that part will henceforth be called "The Rhino," in your honor. That, and the discount for mentioning your name to get a discount with Wula Drum, and your legend grows.
By Daniel Preissler
#28334
we learnt last week that Michi is already served with an animal name ("misi"). Adding "rhino" would be exaggerating, wouldn't it? ;-) I would call this pattern "Conakry-ballet" anyway.

Sorry, Heather, as I'm quite into the traditional that you mentioned and not into drum circles at all. So I can't add much to this subject. I would just play simple (and sometimes simplified) but "complete" pieces with children, do some clapping and maybe singing with them to make them understand (or feel) the music and tell some stories and background from Africa.

but that's just my approach...

greets, D
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By michi
#28336
Afoba wrote:we learnt last week that Michi is already served with an animal name ("misi"). Adding "rhino" would be exaggerating, wouldn't it? ;-) I would call this pattern "Conakry-ballet" anyway.
I can live with "cow". But, as I get older, I guess I could also live with "Rhino" :)
I would just play simple (and sometimes simplified) but "complete" pieces with children, do some clapping and maybe singing with them to make them understand (or feel) the music and tell some stories and background from Africa.
In December 2010, I ended up spending five days, from about 9:00am to 3:00pm each day, teaching drumming to children on a holiday activity program. Basically, every 40 minutes or so, you get another group of children for a 30-minute drumming activity. Age range was 6-14.

One problem, especially with the younger children, is their attention span. You have to pull out something new every few minutes, otherwise they get bored. So, I did body percussion, body percussion in rows, with children clapping the opposite row's hands, singing, making heaps and heaps of noise on the drums, teaching simply accompaniment parts, showing them what a solo on a djembe sounds like, etc.

One thing that was really working was story telling, to break up the endless noise and give their hands a rest. One story that really went down well with all of the children, regardless of age, was the story of Sundiata Keita. I highly recommend reading that. Anyone who plays djembe should know this story anyway, it's the central epic of the Mandingue people.

The story has it all: archetypes, a miracle healing, fights to the death, intrigue and conspiracy, exile, getting justice (the good guys win in the end), and so on. (I even found a thesis somewhere on the web where someone drew parallels between Lord of the Rings and the Sundiate epic. There are remarkably many parallel themes.)

Anyway, the children loved listening to this. At one point, in a session with the older kids, one girl spoke up and said "This is just a story right? You are making this up." When I told here that, "no, this really happened, it's history", quite a few jaws dropped :-)

Cheers,

Michi.
By bubudi
#28340
i second the idea of storytelling for childrens workshops but as kids have short attention spans, you need to keep changing the pace. sundiata is a great story to use, or there are many others. mali sadio is another good one - about a girl who befriends a hippo. i suggest bringing many visuals with you - a world map to show where africa is, a map of africa, some photos of african countryside, traditional village huts, women slinging babies on their backs and pounding foodstuffs in a giant mortar and pestle, a mask, preferably a short video of traditional dancing to the drums. you could arrange all these easily enough into a powerpoint presentation (most schools have a projector that's designed to plug into a computer), or if you're less tech savvy, take your pics to a print shop who can make colour transparencies quite cheaply. pick some nice malinke songs with simple words, and teach it to the kids, incorporating actions and body percussion. when moving to drumming, make sure you set the ground rules before handing out instruments, otherwise you'll have chaos! simple rules like don't use anything except your palms and fingers to hit the drum, don't use it as a table or chair, etc. also, not to play when it's the teacher's turn or while the teacher is talking. keep it light and find some funny things to say in between, like if they will play when they're not supposed to, your head will explode and there'll be brains all over the floor! some kids pick up complex accompaniments quickly, while others have trouble even clapping in time. break down an accompaniment into 2 or 3 sections, put it together, several repetitions, then move on to the next. use catch phrases that provide the rhythm, eg binary passport 'hello and goodbye'. comparing them to animals is also a good tool and gets the kids to think of the rhythm in terms of movement and feel (eg a happy gallop, a saunter through the savannah). aim for 3 accompaniments, doesn't have to be passport. get them to change. if there's any time left over, finish with a song. i tend to put the solo demonstration at the very start, or after the storytelling, as a way to get the adhd kids back in line ;) i have tried to incorporate african values into the lesson so that kids will come out with an idea of africa that is more than just drums and animals - things like respect for elders, being there for your family, friends and neihhbours, embracing diversity, etc.
By Daniel Preissler
#28350
Hi Michi,
of course, the less time you have the more difficult it becomes (especially with my own approach)!
The story has it all: archetypes, a miracle healing, fights to the death, intrigue and conspiracy, exile, getting justice (the good guys win in the end), and so on. (I even found a thesis somewhere on the web where someone drew parallels between Lord of the Rings and the Sundiate epic. There are remarkably many parallel themes.)
I would like to add that bthe Sundiata epic is a winner's history
the good guys win in the end
- of course they do. The Kouyatés have told the Keita version d;-) If they had lost, they would be blacksmiths today (and would have another family name) and the Kantè would be "manden mansa" (and would have another family name).
I would even say it's a "winner's legend" - the proof is to be found in your words and the parallels with "Lord of the rings" - it's a holy past building net of topoi. Many aspects can be taken as facts, but many are just explanations for phenomenons of more recent times.
Nearly everything goes back to the Sundyata era, if you ask some people today. Compared to our culture it is something like the hellenistic-roman empire born by a virgin, if you know what I mean (the Christians among us may excuse this expression, please, I use it as a picture!!!)

But it's a great story, that's true! And we also tell stories about the good and the bad king and good and bad knights. The marriage of king Arthur's parents was arranged by Merlin and or Vivian (depending on the version, Archetypo and me prefer the Zimmer-Bradley one ;-) ) just as in the case of Sundyatas father and Sogolon (Dyatas mother)... And Excalibur and the other thing (don't know the name for what is around a sword in english) are comparable to Sumaoro's secret forces (we could compare it to Achilles as well). There might be just one difference: in western legends in the end it's all a woman's fault d;-)

Best, D
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By Waraba
#28368
The kids I work with always love LOVE the video on YouTube whose name I forget but have seen a thousand times-- "There is no life without rhythm" or something like that.
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By Waraba
#28391
Yes! That is the one! Foli . Love it.
By grache01
#28396
i suggest bringing many visuals with you - a world map to show where africa is, a map of africa, some photos of african countryside, traditional village huts, women slinging babies on their backs and pounding foodstuffs in a giant mortar and pestle, a mask, preferably a short video of traditional dancing to the drums.
Yes! The kids absolutely LOVE the visuals and stories. I'm also blessed that I can share my own personal photos, objects, and stories from my time living in Madagascar. Though Madagascar is not typically known for drumming, it is my homeland to drumming, where I was first exposed, learned the basics, and also were I commissioned my first djembe to be carved. This personal connection always adds interest for the kids I'm working with. :)
One story that really went down well with all of the children, regardless of age, was the story of Sundiata Keita
mali sadio is another good one - about a girl who befriends a hippo
Thanks for the recommendations on West African tales to incorporate, I definitely am making an effort to branch out in my African cultural studies with the kids. I've been rather Mada-Centric so far, because I feel confident that can accurately and fairly convey Malagasy culture.
tell an African folktale to the kids, then retell it, this time adding sound effects with the drums. Each animal, for example, got a different rhythm when he/she appeared in the story. Was a good way to introduce traditional accompaniment parts in a fun way (the elephant got yankadi, the leopard sugu).
I love this! I will definitely be experimenting with this in the coming weeks. :)
By grache01
#28397
Is this school based? if so, are you attempting any curriculum integration? If not, it is something well worth looking into.
Most of my work with kids is school based. I try to incorporate instruments from the continent we are studying at the time, along with that instrument's origin story, if I know it. That is the most curriculum integration I've done so far, but I'd love some more ideas!
What is the goal of the circle? introduction to drumming generally? are you trying to develop any specific skill sets?
The goal of the circle depends, of course, on the kids I'm working with. In general, my goals tend to be introduction to drumming, expression through music and movement, and life skills such as focus, team work, and leadership.
Finally, have you designed any of your own techniques yet? if so, could you give an example?
I can't claim to do anything truly original yet as far as games.

One of the activities/lessons that I designed for my kindergarteners is teaching them how to read basic music notation (4/4 with quarter and eighth notes and rests) and having them practice a few different rhythms with clapping or boomwhackers while reading the notation. Then I break them into two groups: one with higher tone boomwhackers and one group with the lower tone boomwhackers, and I help the two groups to read/play two different rhythms, first independently and then simultaneously. Once they master this, I let the children design their own rhythms (each team its own) and we see how they fit together. Eventually, they get to the point that we can do the same kind of activity but with various drums and percussion.

I find that, once I do this activity with them a few times, their ability to listen to a jam and add a rhythm to the mix, rather than just noise, significantly improves. :)
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By Waraba
#28477
boomwhackers are awesome. You can do lots of easy call and response stuff, by dividing the group in half: say A gets high whackers, and B gets low ones. They can start simple, with A going Bing-bing-bing-bing, then B responds with Bong-bong-bong-bong. Then give A a different call: Bing-Bi-ding-ding, and B: Bong-bong-bong. Later, a leader gives a call without announcing it, and the others have to respond with the appropriate response. Of course, this will lead into teaching traditional arrangements that you may know.