Percussionist takes students on musical journey

On an exciting March morning, seventh- and eighth-grade students from Mr. Wheeler and Mr. Bradley’s social studies classroom file into the gymnasium. A circle of Djembes, Doumbeks and conga drums greet them.

Under the instruction of world-renowned percussionist Jeff Haynes, the students begin to play.

As Mr. Haynes whips around, a rhythm slowly starts to take shape.

“I feel good, don’t you feel good?” he asks the class. “I know you’re ready, family!”

Before long, the students loosen their form and the music begins to flow. And then, as if by magic, a dynamic and harmonious jam session erupts, echoes down the hall and catches the attention of the class passing by.

This jam session is one of many that will take place in March.  Over the course of the next two weeks, Mr. Haynes will collaborate with the social studies teachers in a lesson that takes students on an educational and musical journey through history.

But the students’ drum sessions extend beyond the curriculum. Learning how listen to each other and work together to build a melody enhances their confidence and fosters a sense of greater connection between them, observes Mr. Wheeler.

The lesson culminated with a special school wide performance at the end of the month featuring students drumming to spoken word. View a four minute clip from the performance here.