What are the Benefits of Learning Rhythm Through Drumming??

This article from the Parent Notebook Magazine outlines how beneficial learning rhythm can be and how Rhythm Kids classes help attain these goals in a fun way!

Rhythmic Art, Benefits Beyond Drums by Jeannette Blanca Egozi, M.A. , CCC-SLP, CMHP, CSMC
A classroom full of students sits in a circle playing a variety of drums, shakers, sticks, and other percussion instruments. They are singing rhythms about an alligator. The teacher suddenly plays a rhythm on the drum and everyone simultaneously shouts out "yeah!" as they hit their drums one last time. "Now, let's start from the beginning and play all four rhythms in a row. Can we do it?" "Yes!" shout the students, eager to be chosen as the drum leader. Surprisingly, this is not just a group of children making noise! It may be hard to imagine that the simple act of playing a drum could bring enormous benefits. However, the fact is that a rhythmic art class, like the Rhythm Kids class described above, contributes positively and significantly to the social-emotional development of children. Let's explore some of the most important benefits:

HAND-EYE COORDINATION AND REFLEXES Percussion is not just about hitting the drums over and over, it's about culture, beats, and rhythms. The Rhythm Kids rhythm "Camel" for example, is an adaptation of a Middle Eastern rhythm from the country of Turkey that is typically used in belly dancing. It is traditionally played on frame drums or dumbeks, requiring rapid finger and wrist movements (similar to playing the piano or guitar). The students enjoy learning about a new kind of drum and a new dance, while also devloping skills such as quick reflexes and improved hand-eye coordination.

IMPROVES CONCENTRATION AND LISTENING SKILLS The process of creating music through drums and percussing involves a lot of concentration. Children need to listen, follow rhythms, and stay focused. Research completed by Stanford School of Medicine showed that "music engages the areas of the brain involved with attention span, making predictions and updating the event in memory"(1) In addition, drumming helps with decision-making skills and impulse control

TEAMWORK AND LEADERSHIP Drumming provides a sense of belonging, teaches students to work as a team, and promotes verbal and non-verbal communication with others. When children learn a rhythm, they have the chance to practice their leadership skills, directing the group to play the particular rhythm and instructing them to get louder and softer-often in silly ways, such as using their feet! This is a wonderful opportunity for the whole class, alternating the roles of leader and follower.

EMOTIONAL RELEASE Music gives people the opportunity to freely express emotions non-verbally. It is a healthy way to process emotions that otherwise could result in negative behavior. Children can transform their joy, excitement, sadness, or anger into creating  beats, by altering the focus and intensity of the rhythms they play.

STIMULATES THE MIND According to the study by E. Glenn Shallenberg at the University of Toronto, IQ test scores in children significantly improved after receiving music lessons. (2) Drumming stimulates both the right and left sides of the brain, producing better results in standardized test scores and under-standing of subjects like math and science. The mathematical division of beats in music helps to develop children's understanding of order in terms of counting and placement, i.e., beginning, middle, and end.

PROMOTES PHYSICAL ACTIVITY Rhythm Kids introduce fun and silly stretching techniques before playing the instruments, as well as a variety of rhythm games before playing the instruments, as well as a variety of rhythm games that can include ball passing, rhythmic chants and songs, animal sounds and movements, and traditional children's games from around the world. Drumming and percussion are a fun way to engage in exercise. Furthermore, it is an interactive activity that promotes cardio-vascular stimulation may help prevent obesitiy, and can also aid in eliminating dependence on video games and TV.

Music in general-and drumming in particular- can be an option that can essentially change the lives of your children. Keep in mind that exposing your children to different ways of expression, you are helping them imporve the academic, social, and emotional aspects of their lives-and you are also equipping them to deal with life's challenges as they grow and develop.

(1)Stanford School of Medicine HTTP://med.standford.edu/news_release/2007/july/music.html
(2)Shellenberg, E.G. (2003) Music Lessons Enhance I.Q. Ontario, Psychological Science

Jeannette Blanca Egozi M.A., CCC-SLP, CMHP, CSMC is a Bilingual Speech Language Pathologist, CMH Professional and Stress Management Consultant