Grandparents Teach, Too: Playing, moving with percussion instruments

Young children are drawn to drumming sounds and love to move with the beats found in every culture. Just observe young children at pow-wows, band concerts, weddings and parades. They are jumping and twirling to the beat. Drums also can be a fun learning tool.

All you’ll need are purchased drums, homemade drums, drumsticks or outdoor steps.

To make your own drum sets, help children gather cardboard, plastic, wooden, and metal containers of different sizes and shapes. Include a discussion that walls and furniture are not drums.

High and low pitch

Large boxes are great big bass drums. They can be held upright or placed flat on the floor for a deep, warm sound. You may want to stay away from high-pitched sounding pots and pans, but include one pizza pan covered with paper for a realistic cymbal.

Wooden spoons and chopsticks make excellent drumsticks. Music stores also have inexpensive ones. If desired, muffle sounds by wrapping cloth secured with string around the tips. Children can also just use their hands.

Use the different sizes, shapes, and materials to explain that large containers make a deep sound and small ones make a higher sound. Drums, like all other musical instruments, produce sound by vibrating air molecules. These air molecules push together and pull apart until the sound finally reaches the ear. Air molecules have more space and move slower in a large drum chamber. Slower movement creates a deeper sound. Place your children’s hands on a container while you drum. They can feel the vibration.

Follow a beat

To avoid a crazy riot of banging, drum with your children. Teach them to follow a beat so later they can make their own. Can they imitate different rhythms you make? Can they beat fast, slowly, loudly and softly? Can they drum to songs like that have a soft steady beat? Familiar songs like “Old MacDonald” and “Itsy Bitsy Spider” have varied rhythms. “Little Drummer Boy” is beautiful at any season. Create a drumming circle so adults and children can drum together, take turns, and imitate each other.

You Tube is filled with college and high school marching bands, drum circles, and pow-wows to inspire drumming and dancing.

You may want to include drumsticks on your next neighborhood walk and explore the different sounds children can make drumming on trees, pipes, and rocks. Summertime has many outdoor live performances where they can experience the power of percussion. Energize a dreary day by marching around your house to the music of a college band playing fight songs.

Drumming, like other kinds of music, helps children focus, relieves stress, elevates sad moods, improves listening skills, increases coordination, and provides exercise.

For more easy fun, see grandparentsteachtoo.blogspot.com; wnmufm.org/Learning Through the Seasons; Facebook and Pinterest.

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