The Rhythm of Life

By Alexis Masingill

Rhythm-Rhythm generally means a “movement marked by the regulated succession of strong and weak elements, or of opposite or different conditions” (Anon. 1971)

One of the elements that I wanted to bring to this special place was the gift of drumming. The intent of bringing in a few hand drums from my personal collection could allow the children to understand that the scope of drumming is truly diverse and universal. Through providing simple explanations of technique and intent behind these materials allowed the children to apply those concepts to interpret on their own.

A small group joined me on the patio for drumming. We discussed the names of the drums, how we use our hands to create the sound, and a rhythm to apply to the drums as a group. Then I introduced the concept of tempo using a metronome.

This mathematical concept of beats per second gave the children a sense of time and space. We started with 100 beats per minute. Olive commented, “That was easy, let’s do 1!” The slowest tempo my metronome went to was 10 beats per minute. Hazel said, “We can do it.” And Olive added, “That’s my favorite number!” I pressed the start button and the children stared at the blinking light.

There was so much space between each beat that the level of concentration needed to catch each blink became greater and greater. They were so focused and determined to hit the drum right with the beat.

This gave me great insight into the children’s need to slow down and take things at their own pace. In the past, I would suggest going faster and seeing if they can keep up. But allowing them to dictate the direction that this activity opened my eyes, (and ears) to gathering their interest in mastering the concept of taking things one beat at a time.

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