Thursday, May 23, 2013

Head Start Recap

4-year-olds just drum.

That's why I was excited to share a Beatwell Workshop with two preschool groups last week. I was invited to Morgan State University's Head Start program by their mental health therapist, Nikki Smith, LGSW, MSW, M.Ed.

As most of us get older, we become more self-judgmental. Young kids play naturally, and I was there primarily for just that—to play music. However, in my work, we play with purpose. It was my intention to use group music-making to teach three specific concepts.

1. Individual Self-Expression

I explained to the kids that each instrument has its own sound, in the same way that each child has their own unique voice and gifts to share. They realized that it's possible to play different rhythms on their own instrument, while still contributing to one cohesive song. Which leads us to the next concept.

2. Community & Teamwork

In order for each individual "voice" to be effectively heard, working together was essential. I explained that throughout our lives we are members of different teams: classroom, family, sports team, community, etc. It is when we work together—in this case listening and contributing to the music—that the group is most successful. To tie the two concepts together, the group will work best when each individual contributes their best self.

3. Multicultural Diversity

Each instrument I brought has its own story of origin. Beatwell Workshops offer a great opportunity to experience how different cultures use music to strengthen community. Some African, Latin and Native American cultures—to name a few—make music each day socially. This is quite different from the musical experiences most Americans have. Too often in our consumeristic culture, we treat our art as a product; not as a tool of self-expression and community-building.

Drumming offered the opportunity to teach these important concepts to such young kids, while maintaining engagement. In fact, the number one compliment I seem to get from teachers and other adults is how engaged the children remain. I was glad to create some opportunities for learning, but between us, I was there to play.

And we did that—because 4-year-olds just drum.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Mesh Baltimore Recap

Every community needs a monthly SkillShare.

Mesh Baltimore organizes this 3-hour event each month in Federal Hill.

The concept is simple: 12 locals share a unique expertise for 60 minutes. Each hour you pick from one of four offerings. In an afternoon you walk away with new knowledge and experiences, an expanded network of neighbors, and a belly full of pita chips and hummus.

I gladly accepted an invitation to lead a Beatwell Workshop at the April SkillShare. The Workshop was more educational in nature, during which I shared current research on the health benefits of group drumming and personal experiences as a therapeutic drummer and educator.

But we also "played" music. (The word "perform" is never used in a Beatwell Workshop.) Some attendees had never touched a drum, which always excites me. Within seconds the group was creating musical and memorable experiences together.

Here are some "still" memories from Mesh!
(Over the next month, Julian Haddad and I will be editing video from this and other Beatwell events to share with you all!)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Drum Circle at Record & Tape Traders

Baltimore County has one last, great record store.

Record and Tape Traders has endured as the music and media businesses have evolved. While all the other locations closed their doors (along with almost all of the national retailers), the Towson location remains.

I'm proud to be leading a Beatwell drum circle inside the store next Saturday, May 11! The event is free, open to all, and I'll be sharing drums and percussion. RSVP here.

Here's to creating some new, lasting memories at Record and Tape that could rival the hours standing in line for HFStival tickets in the late 90's!