Drumming for Positive Smiles: A Last Week Lesson That Will Last

I truly have tried to turn a hugely devastating memory into positive energy this past week. I’m just one of those people that won’t take failure at an option and the easy roads in my life always seem to be closed so like most, I always am faced with driving through the challenging paths. When I need to just feel right again I usually turn to drumming, so that is what I focused on this week for lessons with my students to let them leave my classroom with smiles, and a lasting memory of leaving my classroom feeling good and loving music.

We used rhythm sticks for most of these activities and did our drumming on the carpet (I’ve got some strong 5th graders who could break my sticks in a second if played on a harder surface!)

We started with a few games and activities from drum circle guru Kalani .

I used the following games out of his book Drum Fun:

  • “Where’s Froggy?” – A cute hot and cold game that my students were absolutely gaga for.
  • Drum Call- Gets the students warmed up to play and listening to the numbers you call out. Is also a great way to throw leadership to a student who normally will not speak up.
  • Rumble Ball- I get to play with a playground ball and have my students experimenting with sound, I dare you to find a single thing wrong with this.

These games had the students in stitches from laughter, especially when my frog from Where’s Froggy was hidden in some hilarious spots!


After the games we decided to spend the last 15 minutes or so drumming, just drumming that simple. I went over a simple rock beat with them and chose two songs from my KidzBop playlist for students to use that rock beat to play and sing. It truly was a surreal moment being able to sit, listen and watch this go on as I played right along with them. Most classes got into it, singing, grooving in their seats, and drumming on the carpet so hard their hands hurt after it was all over but begged for more. Its that feeling right there that you want walking away from a class like this, being able to just get lost in the music around you and letting out all of that anger or bent up energy screaming to get out, eventually taking with you the emotions of peace and comfort.

The last song that pretty much ended my time with a class was the KidzBop version of “Some Nights”. Most know of the killer drum beat in the song that you would normally think elementary school students would not be able to do but I found by simplifying the beat into “Te Te Ta TicaTicaTica Ta” or for some classes I went down even further to “Te Te Ta TicaTica Ta” and turning it into an ostinato that went to a steady drum beat when the drums were absent from the song. It was a fantastic ending to class and left them smiling and singing at the top of their lungs. The link below is to a few recordings from a few of my classes performing this:

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