The pounding of drums could be heard at Wainwright Middle School where students participated in a 4-day workshop to learn about African drumming. The sixth grade students were selected for the program based on testing data and social emotional needs.
“They are using their brains to process memory and meaning to assist with classroom learning and test-taking skills,” explains Wainwright Special Education Teacher Rachel Dolphin. “Students developed their auditory processing skills through engaging rhythm activities.”
The sessions, “Bring Back the Beat in Learning” are taught by retired TSC music teacher Mary Jane Gregan. She has taught drumming as an intervention at other schools and won a Lilly Endowment grant to study drumming in Ghana, Africa.
Gregan explains that drumming is a way of communication and building a community within a tribe. “We work on focus and working together to maintain a particular pattern, and then relate it back to the classroom,” says Gregan.
“The students gained more confidence and focus by the end of the four-day workshop,” says Dolphin. “Students who would normally be found disengaged in the classroom were sitting tall, listening intently and focused on each other.”
The program will be offered again this semester.