STEM education is everywhere right now, creating what is hoped to be a path toward better living and excellence for all students. STEM is “Science, Technology, Engineering and Math,” all concepts that are important for everyone to learn. Unfortunately, there are plenty of times when STEM education goals take away from music programs, literature studies and the arts in general. As adults, plenty of us made it through school learning STEM principles, and once we were done with school, we started learning what WE wanted to learn. Drums. Rhythm. Percussion. Maybe we were lucky enough to have music classes or private lessons, but, very few of us spent as much time as we wanted following the beat of our own drum, so to speak. Music wasn’t as important as math, science or technology, and as we all know, once we got out of the “system” we started beating our drum to the tune of… well, STEM education.
What we mean is that despite a calling to play drums and use rhythm to give us life, drumming is still STEM education. It’s just a more fun way of learning about science, technology, engineering and math. Plus, drumming enhances HOW we learn about those concepts. It’s a little crazy, cats, that we can run screaming from the halls of our schools right to our djembes and drum sets and still be learning the same stuff. Here’s why:
Science: The action of hitting a drum with your hands, mallets, sticks or brushes produces different sounds at different volumes. There are sound waves involved, energy studies, simple machines, physics force, vibration and a ton of other scientific concepts that go into drumming. We all use a “scientific method” when drumming, too, discovering what does and does not work when we try out a new drum, rhythm or hand/stick technique.
Technology: Drums are technology in plenty of ways, but they are perhaps one of the best ways to study how technology has developed similarly in unrelated areas (think Africa and Japan) and how it has developed over time (from frame drums to electronic drums). Today’s synthetic drum shells and heads, as well as implements like drum sticks, bass pedals and snares are all studies in technology.
Engineering: The first person who ever stretched an animal skin over a hollow log engineered a drum. From there, we see how different indigenous materials led to the engineering of different kinds of drums, even the “simple” cajon drum or today’s hand pan drums.
Math: You need math to make music, and to make drums. The rhythm of music and drumming is based in time, a concept of math. There are numbers in playing the drum or music, and numbers in the science, technology and engineering of drums, drumming and rhythm. Plus, music and drumming help open up the “math” part of the brain in a perfect polyrhythm of STEM excellence.
Outside of the STEM principles, drumming and rhythm is art and creativity. There is a visual beauty to appreciate in each drum, not to mention the pleasure of listening to a favorite groove or, better yet, playing it. When you put STEM and Art together, you get STEAM – and that’s, dare we say it, hot! Drumming and rhythm allows STEM education and arts integration to blend together joyfully for lessons, and it increases the brain’s capacity to learn, to relate to others, to solve problems and a thousand other benefits.
So, the lesson here is that even though we thought we were done with those basics in school, and now turn to our drums in the “school of life,” we’re still learning the same STEM education principles that our kids are learning. We’re just doing it our way, without report cards and standardized tests to keep us from following that beat.
Like snowflakes, there are no two drum sticks that are exactly alike, and odd concept when you consider that they generally come in pairs. They’re pretty close to being exactly the same, unless we’re talking about plastic or sticks that aren’t made from some type of solid wood … which we aren’t… we’re talking about those prized wooden drum [...]
At some point in your life, you may have overheard or told by someone that you didn’t have any rhythm. Maybe you were dancing or air drumming, or just tapping your foot along to your favorite song. Those words probably threw you off, and you realized how your heart hurt at hearing them; your heart, the center of your [...]
Too often, the “look” of a drummer is that of a sweaty, shirtless rocker behind a ginormous drum set with double bass pedals and octopus arms hammering away. Or, there’s the laid back jazz drummer with a hi-hat, drum brushes, cool hat and sunglasses. But, when you think about a country music drummer, that image might be a little [...]
There’s a certain vibe that can only come from jazz drumming: laid back, cool, maybe a little crazy, but in a different way than those other “crazy” styles of drumming. When most people picture jazz drumming, images of a sunglasses-clad drummer nodding away to a backbeat are pretty common. That backbeat itself is laid-back, cool… and a little different, [...]
Drumming is full of triumphs and tribulations, from the moment you pick up your first pair of drum sticks until that final day when you hand your sticks off to the next generation to become a legend. Just when you think you’ve mastered that slick solo you’ve been working on for months and are ready to show off your [...]
Social anxiety is a problem we all face from time to time. It can rear its head in a “stage fright” manner, or in the total avoidance of any public situation. If you’ve ever had butterflies before a first date, an interview or before heading off to college, you’ve had a taste of social anxiety. Others may experience a [...]
Drummers all have one thing in common: we love exploring the sound of percussion. That’s why we always want more drums, cymbals and why we love accent percussion. We covet our case full of drum sticks, mallets and brushes, and we cannot wait each year for the latest bass pedal release. We are always evolving our skills, our “sound” [...]
There’s nothing worse than a shooting pain in your lower back or shoulder in the middle of playing your drum set. You’re in the groove, doin’ your thing and ZOW! You’re in agony! Plenty of drummers experience the natural aches and pains of drumming, like sore muscles, blisters on the fingers or hands or blurred vision from over-drumming (it [...]
Some hand drums just stand out above the others, whether with their sound, size or even just the way the drum looks. Most hand drum players start with finding the “right” sound of a drum, whether a djembe, doumbek or a set of bongos. But, appearance can always be a factor that sways even the best drummer – we’re [...]