The Beat Goes On

May 5, 2014

Drum out your frustrations

As adults many of us have heard of, or experienced first hand, the therapeutic release of anger and hostility through punching bags, pillow fights, or rubber bats. For a child, the opportunity to bang on a drum and actually hear and feel his frustration being released can be just as effective.

No matter what age we all have feelings and emotions are a part of our daily lives. We have situations that are brought to us to handle and figure out which stem from and are likely triggered by our feelings and emotions. One particular eight year old boy, having permission to tell the story with no names, we will call him Ben for confidentiality proposes, had a life changing experience during a drumming session.

Ben was triggered by a statement which was said by a peer during a drumming activity. He then became quiet with tears started rolling down his face. I noticed the change in behavior and asked, "What happened?" After understanding the situation, I now needed to coach Ben to continue to participate for his team members and for him. During my coaching conversation, the other 11 students were messing around and were not being aware of what just happened to their friend. I intervened and made them all aware of the situation at hand. I requested four minutes to help guide Ben back to the group to participate. Putting on a timer to represent reality it became real to them. All 11 students now understood and became more aware of what was really happening and stood in line with eager ears and patience. I had them understand, "This is not about the talent show performance; it is about real life. What you get out of this experience today you can learn from it and carry it throughout your lives."

Now, I needed to help Ben recover and want to participate for himself. It took all four minutes to make Ben aware of the situation, and then he stood up and walked to get in line with his peers.

During the session, Ben experienced all the different feelings in just the five minutes of drumming. While the tears did not stop rolling down his face, first he would not drum, and then drum sadly, then drum with so much anger that I thought that he was going to break the drum, and then became sad again. He was sitting next to me and I would state to him, "Let it out." When the five minute drumming routine was over I noticed the peer that initially made the statement was quietly counting on her fingers. I asked, "What are you doing?" She said, "Ben went through all the different emotions." I asked, "How do you know about that?" She said, "Because I go through all those feeling at home when me brother picks on me." Having her realize that what her brother does to her at home does not need to be carried out in school or other settings. Now being aware of what she did, she deeply understood first hand and acknowledged what really happened during our drumming session. Next, I noticed another peer with his hands up to his face. I mimicked the gesture and asked what does this mean. He said, "I get what Ben is going through." I asked him if he knows what that is called." He stated, "Empathy." I said, "Yes, you understand what Ben is going through." As I stated above we all have feeling and emotions, I found myself feeling proud of all my students for being present when I introduced themes like; empathy, being aware of others, and expressing feelings during out previous drumming sessions.

After reflecting what we all learned from the day, I believed besides making a difference in Ben's life, this day was a life changing experience for all 12 students. It brought awareness of self and others and their community, and was powerful in the sense of teaching hands on life skills that will benefit all the children for days to come.

Read more blogs