Whether your school has experienced one of our workshops before or not, you might never have considered the many ways that African drumming and dance can benefit children’s health, well-being and ability to succeed. Here are four reasons why an Unbeatable Energy workshop can help create a success in your classroom:
1. African drumming and dance brings cultural topics to life!
An African drumming and dance workshop provides a fantastic activity for Black History Month, or to include in a cultural diversity day.
It is an exhilarating experience for pupils and teachers alike when they make that first rumble all together with the African djembe hand drums. As each pupil plays on their hand made drum, they discover a whole world of history, tradition and culture - not just by passively listening or reading, but by actively playing and participating. This way they really experience the ethnic tradition and culture of West Africa. To quote a recent Headteacher at one of our schools ‘it is the hands-on activities like African drumming which children really take away and remember from cultural topics because they become active participants in the music as opposed to merely spectators.’
2. African drumming and dance boosts children’s confidence!
It happens frequently in workshops – a child who really struggles with math and literacy, or is shy and socially disengaged in class, completely transforms in a drumming session. It is as if they have finally found the thing that ‘pulls’ them emotionally and gives them a sense of release.
African dance is also a fantastic way for children to build their self-belief. Dancers normally perform to a crowd either on their own or accompanied by one or two other dancers. In our workshops, children are invited to dance to their peers in the space inside the drum circle. This part of the workshop is entirely optional for pupils, but we provide some gentle encouragement by saying that the experience will make them one feel great afterwards. After a few of the more confident children have given it a try, we start to see a cascade of other children all wanting to have a go. In this way, some of the most shy and reclusive children amaze everyone by jumping into the circle and sharing their joy of the beat. The smiles on children’s faces after this session speaks volumes about their sense of achievement!
3. African drumming and dance gets children active which improves the brain!
African drumming and dance is a fantastic way to for children to exercise and channel their energy. African djembe drumming builds strength and stamina in the upper body while dance improves cardiovascular fitness and is an all-over body workout. Obviously this is great for enhancing children’s fitness and well-being, but studies show that such exercise sharpens the mind; makes for happier children and improves their performance in other areas such as math and literacy.
4. African drumming and dance improves listening skills – not just in music!
It is a typical thing which you hear a teacher say in class music lessons – ‘listen!’ For good reason too because good listening is crucial. Like all music, learning African drumming is great for building a variety of listening skills. For example the ability to focus listening on an individual pattern within a poly-rhythmic piece of music (multiple rhythms being played simultaneously) or developing the listening skills required to understand the feeling of a rhythm when hearing against a regular pulse.
Whatever the type of listening required, there is a common personal attribute that becomes essential for any budding musician - the ability to give oneself time to reflect and process what has been heard. Experienced African drummers who are learning something new always give themselves time to listen before they start playing, because they are all too aware that their mind can quickly make wrong assumptions of what they have heard, based on what they already know. Although the children often find it hard to resist playing straight away!
The great thing is that children can not only improve their listening in music through African drumming, but can also apply the same skill to social situations – for example in conversation. By giving yourself time to hear what someone is saying, you can stop one’s internal chatter from making assumptions; truly absorb what someone is being said and then create a greater sense of rapport – this is called ‘active listening’ a great life skill for a child to learn at an early age!
If you are a school who would love a day of African drumming and dance workshops for your pupils or have an Africa topic or Black History Month event coming up and think we could help, we’d love to hear from you! Contact us to make a booking or find out more here.