Music programs in schools are some of the most valuable educational gifts a child can receive. Music classes expose children to all types of music, teach its history and theory, as well as the mechanics of reading, writing and playing music. Since many children are unable to receive this type of education in the home, the information that is provided through music education programs is an important foundation that can benefit other academic areas, as well as provide an outlet for stress, and a means of communication with peers.
The first exposure many children have to music is through parental lullabies, radio, television or the Internet. By listening to the different melodies and sounds from different genres of music, the brain can change, develop and even heal itself. This benefit is seen in early childhood, during pregnancy and even after a physical or emotional trauma. Music programs in schools can help children, tweens and teens find a way to relate to each other and to the world. Keeping a fresh beat in the music classroom is as important as having a music program. If the music or rhythms played are not interesting to the student, the benefits of music programs may fall short of the expected potential.
One easy way to get the interest of children (and adults!) of all ages is by introducing the class to the art of drumming. The lessons that are learned in the process of drumming, whether on pots or pans, or a full drum kit, can last a lifetime and help a child eliminate anxiety and find his or her own natural rhythm. Drumming in a classroom can be as simple as handing out various instruments like bongos, djembes and maracas, and letting the students take the lead in where the music goes. Other programs are offering specialized music instruction in the classroom such as integrating "school of rock" programs or hip-hop instruction as a way of reaching students who may not see the benefit to studying African drumming or classical music.
With the constant threats of budget cuts affecting music education in the school systems, many music teachers are making a stronger effort to reach students and parents in different ways than in typical music programs. With the incorporation of drums, familiar music or even dance and performance-based instruction, music education is seeing an evolution of its own as teachers, parents and students define where their own music programs will lead.