In researching the benefits of music, I came across a number of studies that have shown the positive effects of the active engagement in music on concentration, community bonding, among others. Frank Fitzpatrick explains it best in his blog Music and the Brain: Rhythm and Playing.
What immediately came to mind when I thought of a music program was Stomp (introduced to me by an Ideaventions family). Our goal is to give children a program that teaches them how to experience music anywhere, with anything, while having fun! And, while I used to “trek” up to Harvard to listen to the St. Paul’s Boys Choir on Sundays, I knew that for Ideaventions Academy, our music program needed to have movement.
I have seen the negative effects of repeated, stressful rehearsals with an expectation of perfection on young children. Instead of loving and appreciating music, the kids got turned away from music or developed anxiety. This reinforced our core philosophy of fun music anywhere. From a practical standpoint, we had to account for children’s varied experience with different instruments, their temperament, natural abilities and the goals of music education in a micro school setting.
When I think back to basics of my music education and years of playing clarinet, three core concepts that come to mind are keeping the beat (think tapping the foot), being able to hear pitch and feeling the rhythm (and in the case of the clarinet, also knowing how to breathe was key). That’s what a music program based on drumming provides. It teaches kids how to 1) keep a steady beat, 2) internalize the rhythm in music and 3) learn over time how to hear differences in pitch. Kids can then take these three core skills to any other musical instrument that they want to learn to play or are already playing outside of school.
I was very fortunate to be introduced to Kofi Dennis by my children’s music teacher. In working with him, the idea for the music program took shape - hand drums, specifically, the djembe. If you have not had the opportunity to see African drums and how much fun it can be, check out this video. Kofi has developed our music program, Drumming for Concepts, whose primary goals are for children to:
a) Work to enhance their music capabilities and independence, and
b) Nurture the music within oneself, one's community and world
To read more about music and music education, check out Frank Patrick’s blog on Huffington Post.