My students are imaginative and fun-loving kids. They are hard-working students who are held to high expectations. They want to succeed and try their best every day. They come from low-income households and have not had much experience with the world outside their small community. Many are ESL learners from multiple countries.
Many of my students face numerous challenges in their lives including hunger, safety, and unstable living situations.
Despite the hardships they are facing at home, they show up at school excited and ready to learn!
With more than 60% of our students identifying as African American, it is sad that most of them have no exposure to the richness of their African musical culture. Music is integral to that identity! I want them to experience and embrace their musical heritage. African music is dancing, drumming, the pulsating rhythms of the earth. African music is celebration, exultation and a profound, visceral way to communicate.
Rhythm is king in Africa.
The Cajon box drum is thought to have originated in Peru. In the 16th century, African slaves would make these instruments from old packing crates and use them to replace the native drums of Africa. The Cajon drums would help students to connect to their heritage and expand and deepen their identity. I want them to see themselves and connect musically through rhythm by teaching them basic West African drumming techniques, as well as allow them to share their personal creative sound with each other in a classroom drum circle setting. Wilson Harris stated, "The drum encloses a womb of space in which silence and identity will emerge out of the darkness and the void." In experiencing African drumming, it is my hope that my students will emerge with great power and presence which comes with living one's heritage.
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