Recently, I finally was able to get a "real" drum circle going and loved it. My 8th grade general music class has been doing really well and we have been studying rhythm. So, I loaded up my car and took my drums and a few other percussion instruments across town to the middle school.
If you are a drum circle novice and just trying to get it started, here's what worked for me. Most are from Kalani's book "Together in Rhythm".
• Pieces of Eight - Everyone picks a number, one through eight. Counting slowly, students play once on their own number (once every 8 counts). To make it more difficult, students can then pick two numbers and/or try speeding up the tempo. Then stop counting out loud and just play.
• "Let's all play our drum" - The teacher says this phrase at various tempi, but the students only play on the word "drum" at the end of the sentence. Shorten the phrase to "play our drum". Lengthen it to "Let's all play our drum because it's so much fun" and have students play on the word "fun". Start leaving out words so that students have to think the phrase and still play at the right moment.
• Rumble Ball - Two students pass a ball between themselves. When the ball rolls on the ground or flies through the air, the class "rumbles" on their instrument (a light tapping or rolling sound). When the ball is caught, the class hits the drum once.
|Yes, I know it's not a circle ...|
• After all this, we were finally ready for a "real" drum circle that was able to go on for several minutes.
By the end, we were exhausted as a group. And I still had to load my drums back in the car and drive across town ...
Here are some great drum circle resources I have found, if you are just getting started like me:
Kalani - Together in Rhythm (DVD included) from Alfred - great activities and ideas
Will Schmid - World Music Drumming (classroom kid includes teacher guide, DVD, and reproducible student book) from Hal Leonard - great ensembles to use
Mark Burrows - Accidental Drum Circle from Heritage Music Press - anything Mark Burrows is great for elementary music!
Christine Stevens - The Art and Heart of Drum Circles (CD or DVD included) from Hal Leonard