With each beat of a conga drum, a person is naturally drawn into the charm of the music. Conga drums are the largest of the Cuban percussion drums and are often played in sets to enhance the harmonic value of the rhythm. In addition to conga drums, many percussionists will add a set of bongos to their rig in order to complete the balance of sound. Bongos are the “pop” to the conga’s powerful “ka-pow.”
Timbales are the Cuban equivalent of toms in a standard drum set. These drums, however, are a big higher in pitch, and many artists outside of Latin music circles have adopted a timbale into his or her drum set, in order to capture the unique tone of this drum. It is also common for these drums, as well as congas, to be strapped to a person and played while walking.
Perhaps most important to the Cuban percussion sound is the claves, seemingly simple instruments that many have said are the definition of Cuban music. Not only are claves specially-designed wooden sticks created with a beautiful, resonant tone in mind, but, there are many techniques involved in playing these instruments in order to fully encourage the wide range of sound possibilities.
Because of the ubiquitous nature of Cuban percussion instruments in all genres of music today, the cultural development of the sound and music of Cuba can easily be overlooked. However, without that cultural innovation and dedication to a love of music, our favorite songs would be without that certain zest and love of life that can only come from Cuban percussion.
Drumming programs in schools have their own benefits for community-based learning that is applicable to educational goals. Taking the foundation of these programs into a classroom can have the same benefit, especially when it comes to constructing a rhythm that is unique to that particular group of children. One of the best things about drumming and rhythm is that there is no training requirement necessary in order to incorporate it within a classroom. It is a natural experience we all share, and bringing that rhythm into a small environment that focuses less on proper technique and more on the groove of the students and teacher will have astounding effects on the rest of the instruction time.
With the lessons that drumming can provide, beyond music and rhythm, it seems essential to include the activity in all types of classrooms. Music teachers should not get to have all the fun, or the benefits, of drumming, even if we love what they bring to the experience, as well! In fact, most music teachers would be delighted to know their area of expertise is creating a better classroom environment outside of their own efforts. Bringing all of these benefits together in a school or learning environment is one of the reasons for the development of programs, activities and instructional materials for non-music teachers. While it is easy to follow the beat of your own drum while teaching, it can never hurt to learn how to incorporate drumming into your classroom to help achieve educational and curriculum goals.
Check out the new 1, 2, Let’s All Groove guide for classroom drumming! Written by K. Solomon Masala, this book will change the way you see teaching and how your students groove once you get that beat going!
In the U.S., the startling number of children and adults "on the spectrum" has given plenty of reasons for research and implementation of various therapies, including music. In other countries, however, the journeys we see may be a reminder of just how pervasive this disorder is, and how much basic treatments can help patients, and family members, cope with autism. Thenational.ae discusses a recent documentary about the way that music therapy has helped a family in UAE with the various issues surrounding an autism diagnosis in the family, and how the documentary is helping establish a community among caregivers. Read more here: The Brain That Sings plays the way to happiness for autistic Emiratis at DIFF
In 2012, one of the most amazing viral videos running through the ranks was of a boy drumming his very soul out to a few amazing songs. Yahoo Canada reports that because of this video, and the cover of Pearl Jam's "Mind Your Manners," little Jaxon Smith was treated to a high honor at a recent Pearl Jam show in Canada. Jaxon was not only given tickets to the show, but, was put in the spotlight by Eddie Vedder, himself, who made a promise that he is going to have to keep. Read more here: Pearl Jam gives 8-year-old drumming prodigy Jaxon Smith a shout-out in Calgary
Music Therapy for Writing Creatively
There is so much information out in the world about the benefits of music on the brain, academics, self-esteem and so much more, we may all think that we know for certain that music is a good thing. However, a recent article on Huffington Posts also points out a few lesser-known reasons why music is good for us. Based upon different studies about music, creativity, sound, motor and reasoning skills, it is a wonder to see all of the ways that music positively benefits us, even those who prefer rock music. Read more here: 8 Surprising Ways Music Affects and Benefits our Brains