Aug. 04--STILLWATER, Okla. -- A music curriculum that has taken hold in numerous states held its first workshop in Oklahoma this week.
World Music Drumming clinicians visited Oklahoma State University to work with teachers from across the country, including four local music instructors.
"We have people from 11 other states besides Oklahoma, from all over the country," said Julia Hayley, associate professor of music education at OSU. "We've even had a high school student sitting in with us this week who is interested in drumming and interested in music education."
World Music Drumming was created in 1996. Clinician James Mader was one of the pilot teachers under the program's creator, Will Schmid.
"It was necessary (to create) because we have students that are in orchestra, chorus, band and then we have the others," he said. "We have the general music class. And in general music classes, we found that students were reading about music, they were listening to music. They were watching DVDs and videos of music, but they weren't experiencing music and what it teaches us."
Not only do students learn about music in various cultures, the program teaches skills applicable to life, in general, including teamwork, focus, community and balance, Mader said.
"We are now in over 20,000 schools," Mader said. "It just keeps on growing. We find it in church groups, we find it in youth groups, we find choral directors like to use this. We find band directors love to use this curriculum."
Mader said teachers taking part in the workshop have found it very easy and accessible.
"We don't sit and listen to lectures in World Music Drumming," Hayley said. "We make music."
Hayley said she would like to see the curriculum expand into Oklahoma schools.
"The seeds that were planted this week, I want to see them grow," she said. "I want these teachers to go out and share them with their students and with their fellow teachers and tell them how exciting it is and how valuable it is for their students and for themselves."
Westwood Elementary School music teacher Trish Ranson was familiar with the program and was excited to take part.
"The World Music Drumming has been around for a while and it has always been on my bucket list to do," Ranson said.
"Then, with it being right here in Stillwater, it was the perfect opportunity. It's amazing in the sense that it takes these really complex rhythms of world music and makes them accessible to anybody from adult to younger child and how to teach that.
"We want children to be able to have instruments in their hand and be able to play and be successful because then once they grow up, they realize, 'Yes, I am musical inside.' We all are."
She said it differs in how traditional music teaching is conducted.
"It's based in aural tradition where it is teaching by ear, teaching those patterns and how does it feel and really tuning the focus of the child and the teacher to really pay attention to what's going on and how it grooves together," she said. "A lot of our instruction is geared toward our eye first; here's the notes on the board, here is what written music looks like. This allows them to feel the music in a way that maybe they can't read it yet."
Ranson said she plans to write grants this year to acquire drums for her students.
"Music is a major part of life and we, in our schools, are looking toward improving our math, reading and science scores and really, music can't be cut, because music is the thing that lets them decompress," Ranson said. "It helps them focus. It trains them for the other subjects. It's just so important in their daily lives."
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