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How Can Drumming Help Students Grow Academically?

© Gregory Hochman, Artdrum.com

Drumming and percussion naturally compliment several academic subjects and can help students to better understand those subjects.

Some of these subjects include, but are not limited to, math, physical fitness, language arts, science and history.  The age and grade of students need to be considered when determining how to implement drumming as an activity that compliments academic subjects.  Here is a general overview of how five subjects - math, physical fitness, language arts, science, history -  and the arts can be complimented by drumming, percussion and music.

Math

Drumming teaches early elementary students (K - 2 ) to count.  Basic counting and learning to count in cycles (1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.) is a fundamental part of drumming.   Drumming and percussion can teach middle elementary age students (grades 2 - 5) fractions and introduce the mathematics behind frequencies, intervals and harmonics.  High school students can learn more about and apply the foundational math skills (counting, fractions, frequencies, intervals, harmonics) in new and more sophisticated ways. 

Physical Fitness

Drumming teaches students about their body.  The entire body is used in drumming and most especially the fingers, hands, wrists, elbows, arms, shoulders and legs are all physically developed through drumming.  Every age group is benefited by the physical fitness required in drumming.

Science

Drumming teaches students about material science as well as the science of sound.  Beginning as early as first grade students can learn that each material, wood, metal, skin (drum heads) have their own capacity or ability for vibration.  Drumming teaches young students that sound occurs through vibration.

As students grow older they can learn more about the science of sound.  Tuned percussion instruments such as xylophone, steel pan, piano all afford the opportunity to learn about frequency (notes), intervals (the relationship between notes or frequencies) and harmony (the relationships of intervals).

Language Arts

Many strategies for learning to drum involve verbal communication.  For instance, singing and chanting can be used to develop the vocabulary, pronunciation and foreign languages skills of young students (k - 2). Older students can continue to apply such strategies plus, they can learn to use words, lyrics and poetry in more sophisticated ways, which can, in turn, improve their language art skills.

History

The history music instruments, the history of musical styles, the history of composers and musicians all correspond to history as a whole.  For instance, to learn about the history of gongs is to learn about China and Chinese history.  Or to learn about the history of Calypso music is to learn about West Africa and Trinidad.  Drums, and music, is a fun and effective way to learn about history. 

The Arts

Drumming is a dynamic art with many titles; it is a musical art.  It is a performing art.  It is a healing art.  It is directly connected to dance.  And it is  part of the great web of arts.  All drummers are artists and so drumming gives its practitioners a unique vantage point and understanding of art and the arts

Summary

Drumming and music is a light, which can shine understanding upon many subjects.  In addition to the above subjects, there are many others, including psychology, sociology and even theology, which can be learned through the lenses of drumming and music.  In short, drumming is an ideal interdisciplinary subject, which not only helps students grow as musicians, but also helps them learn about themselves and can give them a better understanding of a variety of academic subjects.

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