GUELPH MERCURY Thursday December 2 2004
Drummer Big Hit at School by Deirdre Healey
Vladimir Djordjevic’s head rocked to the thundering rhythm as he pounded in unison with the rest of his classmates on the African drum tucked between his legs.
As he looked around the drumming circle, his mouth slowly curled into a smile.
For a moment, Djordjevic felt connected.
The Grade 12 student joined 400 other “high risk’ students in a drumming circle at Guelph Collegiate Vocational Institute yesterday.
During the entire School day, the pounding of 100 drums burst through the cracks in the high school gymnasium walls and vibrated the floor.
“I love the drumming,” Djordjevic said with enthusiasm in his voice. “I love music.”
Students in groups of 100 poured into the gym for the hour long session of drumming.
Many appeared apprehensive at first. “I have never played a drum before.” said 16 year old Jamie Aguigra.
But once one student started pounding, the rest joined in, tapping out the same beat.
“Just look at the smiles on their faces.” Said Michael Chaves, the high school’s technology teacher who helped organize the drumming circle.
“A lot of these kids don’t feel part of the system because they are not successful at school. But in the drumming circle there are no winners or losers, just participants.
Yesterday’s event was aimed at high school students studying at a basic level and performing below the provincial standard, as well as students who are disengaged and have poor attendance level.
African drummer Fulé Badoe led the huge drumming circle by having students repeat different rhythms.
“Listening is a huge part of drumming.” He told the students. “The silence between the drumming is just as important.”
Badoe, who moved to Guelph from Ghana 12 years ago, holds drumming circles at the University of Guelph as well as local high schools...
DRUMS: Many Lessons Learned
“On the surface we are teaching them an African rhythm, but underneath we are teaching hem how to focus, how to listen, how to work with each other and how to achieve a goal. You can use rhythm to do all that.”
Chaves said he wanted the students at GCVI to be exposed to Badoe’s drumming circle because he thought it would help them feel a part of something.
“The drop out rate across the province is going through the roof” said Chaves. “School is based on winning and losing and those in the losing circle don’t feel they fit into the classroom so they drop out. But these drumming circles give them confidence. They discover it is amazing what can be done when you try.”
He said 800 kids in the 1,300 student high school applied to take part in the drumming circle, but there was only room for 400.
Djordjevic was glad he was one of the students who had a chance to take part in the therapeutic power of drumming.
“This is such a good idea.” He said when it was over. " I wish they would have more of these types of activities at school. Music is something I am good at.”
AfroCulture.com Exploring & Promoting the Arts of Africa