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.

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