School is the foundation for education, both academically and in preparation for the adult world. Much of today’s curriculum is designed to help all children begin their adult lives on an even playing field in terms of math, science, language arts and social studies. Within schools, however, we all know that the learning does not stop with books, essays and trig tests, but that schools are the main venue we learn how to function socially among our peers and eventually in the “real world.”
Social skills are taught though the various levels of education, starting at home and continuing throughout life. The majority of social behavior is learned during the school years, while sitting in history class, running around on the playground and eating lunch in the cafeteria. It is not uncommon for even the brightest, most social child to have problems with social skills, self-esteem or the ability to work with others. These skills are often considered as important as academics, yet many children are left to learn the social aspects of life on their own.
Music has been long noted for its ability to bring out hidden qualities in children, beyond any talent for music. Music therapists use rhythm and song to connect with patients experiencing emotional trauma, neurological disorders and those with Autism, ADD/ADHD or language processing and communication disorders. These same techniques can assist a child without a diagnosed disorder find a “voice” within a peer group, and for all children, finding that voice can be one of the most freeing aspects of school. Through the process of playing an instrument a child learns cooperation, teamwork and the importance of “one” within a group. This confidence helps a child succeed within academics, and socially, providing an understanding of the self, as well as the other children involved in the music or rhythm. Drumming especially allows a hands-on demonstration of how working as a group requires teamwork, but also establishes a strong foundation for building positive relationships outside of the classroom. Plus, the creative aspect of music and rhythm allows children to discover new aspects of their own minds, as well as the minds of their peers.
When it comes to building social skills, the school environment can be the place where most social interaction takes place. Encouraging positive social interaction can be a difficult task, but through techniques inspired by music teachers, therapists and through the studies of the impact of music on behaviors, music and drumming can be one of the most beneficial ways for children to learn the ins and outs of social skills.