Friday, April 22, 2005

They've Got The Beat

As classroom teachers, we like the idea of kids learning about music. We strongly feel that music should be an integral part of their educational experience. Sadly, in these days of budgetary shortfalls, schools are not always able to fulfill that need. Then it becomes vital for others to step-up and introduce youngsters to the World of Music. That's why we were pleased when we ran across this little story in the Los Angeles Times:

In a grassy area of Hancock Park, kids and parents rummage through big blue plastic bins that contain small West African-style drums (djembes), beaded gourds (shekeres), tambourines and collections of goat hoofs.

Kids give a perfunctory shake, pound and tap on sound shapes, lollipop drums and assorted vegetable shakers before deciding on the right instrument. Hurrying over to a shaded area, families find seats at this Rhythm Child drum circle, where leader Norman Jones is thumping away on his own djembe.

"Come on! Join the drum circle!" entices Jones as families get settled. "Let's see what kind of music we can make today."

Participants bob up and down as they pound and shake instruments in a frenzy. Jones then instructs everyone to see how quietly they can drum. Finally, he says, "Let's get louder!" and the whole drum circle explodes with infectious rhythms and exotic beats.

Indeed, making music is at the heart of Rhythm Child, an organization Jones, a 40-year-old Culver City musician, started with his wife, Heather, almost two years ago. The idea is to introduce young kids to the rudimentary elements of music in a family drum circle experience.

The Joneses and their collection of drums may often be found at Family Sunday events, (which are sponsored by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art) and at this year's Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.
For the latest edition of The Carnival of Education, along with entry instructions for next week's Carnival, please click here.

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