At Bashor Children’s Home, the sound of drums echoes down the hallway every Wednesday afternoon. Thanks to a new partnership between Bashor and Goshen College, ECoSistema has launched weekly drumming classes for students at the Bashor Alternative School. ECoSistema Lead Teaching Artist Kent Dutchersmith teaches classes with ten teenage boys and several Bashor staff members. Participants echo rhythm patterns, learn drumming pieces with multiple parts, and try out a variety of percussion instruments, from the guiro to the donkey jaw.
Drumming teaches life lessons as well as musical skills. Mr. Kent opens each session by reviewing the five “guiding words”: Respect, Listen, Rest Position, Participate, and Community. Throughout the class students listen carefully and echo each other’s rhythms, each student getting a turn to be the leader. Mr. Kent reminds students that their participation is important because each of them play a special role in the classroom community. Each session includes free-form drumming where students can create their own rhythms, as well as times to listen and learn. Students handle the instruments carefully, learning how to hold and play each one.
“I really enjoy the activities,” says one participant during the time of debriefing after class. “I was proud of myself for learning a tricky rhythm and playing it on my own.” Other students share that they feel calm and relaxed during drumming sessions. Bashor staff members note that drumming helps students release stress and express themselves.
This partnership aligns perfectly with ECoSistema’s mission of providing greater access to music education. Program staff at the Bashor Alternative School greatly value the arts, but haven’t always been able to include music in the curriculum. Now, with drums purchased by Bashor and a teacher provided by ECoSistema, music is a regular part of students’ week.
“On the first day, we had kids listening outside the door,” a staff member told us. “I think the word will spread quickly and more students will want to join.” This is precisely what we strive for – to reach more and more students through music! We’re grateful to work with Bashor towards this goal.