Did you now that March is Music In Our Schools month? What a great way to focus on how music enriches the lives of all students, young and old!
I’m part of a group of music educators that want parents, teachers and everyone to find lots of fun and creative ways to share music with kids. This year, our theme is “31 days of rhythm” so I wanted to share a bit about how pow-wow drumming.
What’s A Pow-Wow Drum?
If you’ve ever been to a Native American gathering, the pow-wow drum is at the center of the event. At most pow-wows you’ll see a group of either men or women gathered around a big drum and everyone is playing and singing at the same time. They are all playing in unison, meaning the goal is to strike the drum together. And when a great drum group is playing, it sounds like thunder and shows the power of what people can do when they work (or play) cooperatively!
Make Your Own Pow-Wow Drum
Actual pow-wow drums are beautiful and many are very special and sacred. But I’ve done a post that explores the first pow-wow drum and you can easily make that at home. You can find it here as well as check out the sound of a traditional drum group playing and singing: http://www.dariamusic.com/drum.php
You’ll Need a Drum Beater
To play a pow-wow drum, each drummer needs their own beater. Check this link for an equally simple craft to make your own pow-wow drum beaters: http://www.tinytappingtoes.com/classroom-music/make-a-little-drum-beater-for-a-big-drum/
Now Let’s Play!
Every child can find a place around the fabric drum, holding the drum with one hand and their beater in the other. Then, they strike the drum together – at the same time. At first, a teacher or adult may want to tap out a beat to any familiar song and encourage the children to play along, hitting the drum at exactly the same time. Once the kids get the idea, the leader can also ask the children to listen carefully and do what she/he does. While playing the same song, she/he can play softer and they should tap softer. He/she can play harder or a bit faster or slower and the drum group should do the same.
In Native cultures, drumming is just one way of teaching cooperation and listening skills as well.
To practice drumming together, you might wish to try a simple song I used while teaching music and English in the Middle East. The students wanted to learn the days of the week in English so they drummed to the following little song. Whoever was leading set the pace and played the rhythm as they sang. When they finished, they pointed to someone who had listened and played well to be the next leader.
(one beat) Sunday,
(one beat) Monday,
(one beat) Tuesday,
(one beat) Wednesday,
(one beat) Thursday,
(one beat) Friday and
(three beats) SAT-UR-DAY (beaters must stop and raised in the air).
Happy drumming and check out all the posts for the 31 Days of Rhythm right here: https://musicedblogs.com/