When a child enters middle school, their whole world turns upside-down. No longer are they given the nurturing support of the elementary school environment, but they are tasked with the responsibilities of changing classrooms and being on time throughout the day, using lockers, navigating new social waters and completing complex homework assignments. Students in middle school are exposed to different subjects and given more responsibilities than they've known previously, and with that additional responsibility and workload, middle school can be a time of adventure, fun, fear and stress.
Middle school is not all work, though, and there are many benefits that come to middle school students and can help enhance their education, especially if the students are exposed to fine arts curriculum and music classes.
Music is known to improve behavior, test scores and academic comprehension in children and adults alike, plus it helps with problem solving and enhances creativity. While fine arts budgets are being cut, many art and music programs are still running strong, occasionally due to generous private donations and grants funded by corporations or arts organizations. These programs, grants and contributions help keep fine arts in our schools where more and more emphasis is placed on academic achievements over creativity and self-expression.
Despite the push toward raising test scores among students, music teachers and school administrators are looking for new and creative ways to involve more students in music, including offering drumming classes and activities. Middle schools, in particular, can benefit greatly from these programs as they help the transition from elementary school learning to the competitive high school environment. Since drumming initiates a cooperative effort among students, it can foster their involvement with other students, build their team work skills and give them a sense of accomplishment as they successfully orchestrate or perform a song.
A circle of middle school Djembe drummers can be a unique way to help relieve stress and promote physical activity through engaging rhythms and the natural desire to dance. The National Middle School Association recommends that educators “Engage every student in meaningful and challenging curriculum and do so in an environment that fosters respectful and supportive relationships among students, faculty, families, and the community.”
Drumming and cooperative music classes are a creative way to engage students in such an environment. Above all, drumming is fun, and while a middle school student has to take their studies seriously, engaging them in a fun activity may make the daily chores of homework and studying more bearable, giving them confidence and motivation to learn.
Middle school can be a positive experience for students, provided the support and resources are available for them to succeed academically and socially. Offering music and other fine arts classes or enrichment activities can help make middle school less of a struggle for the middle school student, as well as the student’s parents. If you are a drummer and want to contribute to your community, see if you can bring your drums into a music class and get the students started with a classroom drum circle. You will benefit your own drumming as well as give the gift of drumming to others.