Drumming in schools for kids with behaviours

Every year I host a number of 6 to 8 week drumAbility courses (Sydney & Newcastle) for students that are in 'behavioural units', sometimes known as support classes. 

These classes consist of kids that have challenging behaviours stemming from learning difficulties, autism, very poor family environments and on the list goes on. There are a lot of words that get thrown around like 'special needs', 'disability', 'developmental delay' and the likes but at the end of the day they refer to kids who are having a tough time. They have often been expelled from other schools, and struggle to fit in.

These units are often in 'lockdown' with assaults on teachers and other students common. Students try to abscond, damage property and furniture as their frustration and anger escalates. The teachers are dedicated to finding a way to increase the standard of living for their students, and patiently try to navigate their way through complex and individual behaviours. But it's hard and takes seemingly endless persistence and consistency.


"Is that as hard as you can hit it?" 

When I meet the kids for the first time they often try to test the barriers with me, try to shock me, and the like, but the drumming just takes over. It's instant. "Is that as hard as you can hit that drum?" I often ask. A cheeky smile is accompanied with full on flailing arms smashing on the drum which never last too long before that smile is reaching ear to ear. WOW, that was fun (it's written all over them).

Before you know it we are all just a bunch of people, charging with drum missions, trying new grooves, seeing who can drum the fastest, the loudest and seeing who can remember some cool drum names. "MY TURN MY TURN" says he who does not take part in group activities. "MY TURN MY TURN" says he who tried to slap the teacher 30 minutes before drumming started. "Can I have the microphone please?" says he who has so much anger built up inside, and yet such great manners and a soft spoken tone.


 appreciation award from school kids


"They've tricked me" the principal said

The principal at a school where I was recently said to me "They've tricked me". I asked him to explain and he said that so far through the term the kids were not showing any signs that they would be willing to focus and work towards a goal, as a team. He watched the drumming sessions and was amazed to see them on the edges of their seats, wanted to participate and following instructions. "The games up now! From now on I realise that they can do SO much, it's just about finding a way where they are engaged and enjoying themselves. I'm not letting them away with as much from now on!" He said - we both laughed hard, shook hands and walked away with the biggest smiles.


 drumming concert equipment for school kids


Amazing concerts

One of the features of these 6 or 8 week school courses is the concluding drumming performance/concert. We put the small classes together on stage and blow everyone's minds. No one expects that these students can pull off such an interesting, inspired, high energy effort - the likes of which we see EVERY TIME. Content includes special features, students with key roles, surprise twists, outrageous solo's and more. There are a myriad of instruments from Africa, Cuba and Europe. We have small drums and we have big drums, and of course some humour! It's all on. I love watching the surprise on the audiences faces as we open the concert (often with a ROAR) - the jaws drop.

We invite families, other students from the school (often year 6) and teachers from other schools who work in similar environments. On the day I set up stage lights, the students often make some kind of uniform, we call our band a name and we get on stage and have SO much fun. Touch wood, I haven't seen a behavioural outburst yet, at any concert. 

I always miss the students the week after the course finishes, I get so used to seeing them every week, and love how the relationships grow, how the trust builds up and then all of a sudden they are not in front of me anymore, cranking those drums. 8 weeks goes past so quickly, yet it's such an in depth adventure. We all end up as friends.


Shout it to the world!!

I am trying my hardest to spread the word about these programs. I love hosting them and get SO EXCITED when new enquiries arrive. The benefits are so obvious, it's all here ready for as many kids as possible - help me by reaching those who don't know this exists.

Pass the word on, I'm primed for action :-)

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