Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Drums Alive! DRUMTASTIC! Curriculum

If you haven't heard about Drums Alive yet, take a look at this fun video!

I've seen similar videos to this, but this particular one got the attention of my principal, which in turn got me the funding to start a Drums Alive program at my school!  If you're interested in using the Drums Alive program, here are some tips and tricks I've learned.

History:  Drums Alive is a fitness program created by Carrie Ekins in 2001 as part of her own physical therapy journey.  Adding drumming and rhythms to her PT was a refreshing and enjoyable way to renew her strength both mentally and physically.  To share these benefits with our young ones, Carrie has worked to create a globally used fitness and education program.

DRUMTASTIC!:  Drumtastic! is the educational curriculum designed for grades kindergarten-middle school.  This curriculum includes a mountain of resources and lesson plans.  The price varies ($200~$500) based on whether you choose online access or the printed curriculum.  With the online access, printing is permitted, but access is only for 1 year.  I chose this option and spent a good amount of time downloading, organizing, and printing over 600 pages.  Thankfully, I have HP Instant Ink and printed them all full color for less than $20!  Check out this link if you're interested in learning about Instant Ink! ---> Instant Ink Referral 

The lessons in DRUMTASTIC! are broken up into 8 sections:

Brain Beats
Cool Down & Relax
Music & Rhythm

Introductory lessons help students get acquainted with drum sticks, balls, and the ball holders.  I skimmed through most of this with my upper elementary students but spent a few lessons with my little guys.  This is where I drilled my procedures and expectations.  We use CLASS? YES? from Whole Brain Teaching in my classroom so when I say class, the response is YES! with sticks parallel from each other apart.  No ifs, ands, or buts.  If you're sticks are making noise when I'm talking, you're out.  We also explored the balls during these lessons.

Rumble lessons are pure fun and a great warm up.  There are running games, partner games, classic freeze dance type games, and more.  Five minutes at the beginning of class to get our brains in the right mindset.

Balance lessons are more for fitness than drumming, but I'd argue coordination and body awareness is an important part of musiking!

Choreography lessons are the meat of the curriculum.  This is what my principal was thinking about when she sponsored this program. These are the routines that you'll see on Youtube and students love!  Most of these routines are similar to aerobic routines that you'd expect from a class at the gym.  It's not impossible for a student to follow along with verbal cues only, but it gets easier with preparation and practice.  There are varying levels in the choreography to challenge the little guys and even the big guys.  Though, in true Orff fashion, I have my students explore and create their own routine sometimes!  

Interval lessons pick up the tempo just a little more!  I haven't used these yet since I don't have the time, but would love to dive into these for my own cardio benefit!

Brain Beat lessons are supposed to be a bit more educational, however, that seems to be a bit of a stretch for me.  There is an alphabet game (find the letters in alphabetical order), create a shape using scarves (sounds familiar...), write a rhyme with a small group (how is this about drumming??).  I think there is good intentions with these lessons, but nothing connecting drums and academics.  Though if drumming and academics was you goal, I'd look into  Academic Beats.

Cool Down & Relax lessons are exactly as they sound.  Stretching and breathing are nice to calm down students and bring their heart rates back down into the normal ranges.  The music is very nice and relaxing for these!

Music & Rhythm lessons include whole notes, half note, quarter, eighths, body percussion, the cup song (again, of course), and some even vs. uneven rhythms.  There is great potential here!

As a music teacher, I've enjoyed this program with my kiddos and have gleaned a lot from the curriculum; however, if I wasn't given the funding, I wouldn't purchase it myself.  The choreography lessons are the meat of the program and I could have purchased just those lessons with music for about $30 with the Kids Beats CD, instead of paying almost $300 for the whole curriculum (which, at the time, didn't include any music to the choreography.  They ended up mailing me a CD after I complained that I purchased a whole curriculum and didn't receive the music to USE the curriculum.  I think they've changed their model since then).

I also don't have enough time to utilize the whole DRUMTASTIC! Curriculum.  I spent about a month with each grade as a unit in the fall to introduce Drums Alive and then hosted a 3 month after school club.  Everyone loved the lessons in class and our after school club performed our routines at some High School Basketball games, but I have so many objectives for my program and can't spend too much time on something extra, even if there are musical goals to the extras.

I'll write another post with some more practical tips with my Drums Alive program.  Balls, stabilizers, room set up, storage, procedures, pricing, etc.  All the boring stuff!

Here's a video of our after school club performing Drums of Africa!  Please excuse their lack of enthusiasm... we're still working on it!