Evelyn Glennie: Drumming with Mums

As the spring returns to the UK and brings with it all manner of new beginnings as well as a bit of warm sunshine! it also brings to mind the dedication we need when feeding our next generation.

Although I have no children of my own I get an enormous buzz from watching youngsters learn about percussion. In the UK I recently took part in a series of children’s programmes introducing very young children to the delights of instruments and the sounds they make. The programme is called Zing Zillas. This link should give you a taster for our hopes to inspire youngsters to have fun!

From the womb to the grave sound is our constant companion, even for those of us who are profoundly deaf. Where sound is not audible the vibration of sound can still be felt. Babies in particular are very susceptible to feeling vibrations long before they are born. We know they can feel and hear vibration in the womb. Parents can help babies to develop their sensory skills by holding their tiny hands on the skin of a drum as it resonates and to feel the vibrations.

I often notice parents trying to discourage children from touching instruments, making too much noise, or offering only one stick to strike a drum. Charities who deal with victims of neurological problems such as RETT UK understand the importance of encouraging children to do all of these things especially the use of both hands, something I have trained myself to do, which means I have equal strength and strike in both arms.

When a child sits using one hand playing, striking or tapping it is often leaning to one side. The body is simply not positioned correctly and encourages poor posture. It also means the child is not encouraged to use both sides of the brain. Exercise of any sort should not be limited to one side of our bodies. When a new parent guides a baby they hold both hands. In doing so they are helping their child to strike an equal balance. As a child grows and can hold sticks to strike a saucepan lid or drum, the sound is likely to be more meaningful. They can create a rhythm ‘rat a tat’, instead of tat tat.

Sitting up straight is also an important part of exercise and not just a parental dictate! It is beneficial for a child’s bone and muscular development. As a child becomes a student and plays a piece of music their confidence is obvious in the way they hold themselves. The difference becomes very clear in the way they strike the instrument and ultimately in the development of ‘their’ sound.

We all want to give our children the best and for me teaching children to explore sound creation through Percussion is the best gift of all especially when using both hands!

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1 Comment

  1. What a wonderful way to teach children to hear with their whole bodies and beings!!!

    I was profoundly moved your magnificent SPIRIT SONGS performance yesterday.

    Thank you for sharing the beauty of your spirit so fully.

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