by Arvin Scott, email@example.com
Drumming for Success is a two-part youth and adult community-based
program that I started in 1997 in Athens, Georgia. This program provides
a positive and fun-filled environment that fosters achievement, creativity
and self-esteem. It makes a difference in the lives of youths through
positive role modeling and spreads the joy of drumming throughout
the community and the Southeast.
The youth segment meets separately from the adult segment. Children
are recommended to the program by local public school teachers, administrators,
community agency leaders and adults who also participate in the program.
Youth participants are between the ages of seven and seventeen and
come from diverse backgrounds and ability levels. Some demonstrate
exceptional ability and signs of upward mobility, whereas others have
been identified as "at-risk" by community agencies or teachers. Children
with developmental and neurological challenges also participate fully
in the program.
The program is divided into two sessions - Jan. through June and Sep.
through Dec. The basic idea is to teach utilizing the percussion instruments
you have available; I use accessories, hand drums, congas, timbales
and drumset. I teach using a very flexible method of aural tradition
- where the leader sings and plays a rhythm and the group mimics.
First, start with a simple pattern to get everyone relaxed and comfortable.
As the class mimics, I gradually add more complex patterns and rhythms.
Ultimately, the group will groove, playing a variety of Brazilian,
Carribean and West African influenced music.
During the first weeks of the program, students are required to write
goal statements for the class. I monitor their progress through consultation
with parents, teachers and community agency leaders. Once students
achieve their goals, they are rewarded with drums and percussion accessories,
which are funded with the support of individuals, community and industry
sponsors. The positive results from this program are reflected in
grade reports and school attendance records, better attitude towards
school and learning, enhanced self-esteem, improved family relations
and greater mental concentration and muscle coordination.
Through this program, children also gain valuable performance experience.
To date, there have been appearances at the local Boys Clubs, two
branches of Girls Clubs, public schools, the Family Connections Project
of Rome, GA and the YMCA of Chattanooga, TN. In July of this year,
the "Drumming for Success" Hand Drumming Ensemble (comprised of children
and adults) was the featured act in the first annual Athens Kids Festival.
The first step in building a community-based program is getting the
community involved. Write letters and visit the local businesses and
schools. They are usually receptive to supporting such a program.
Though the adult class pays a nominal fee, the program could not survive
without the support of sponsors and local businesses. Hillsman Middle
School has donated their facility, which serves as the host site for
regular community classes.
This program affirms a lesson I learned long ago - that drumming can
transform a bad day into a good day, a good day into a great day,
and an "at-risk" life into a successful lifetime. It is a source of
joy and passion for me and those whose lives the program touches.