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Sunday, March 22, 2015

Drumming in math lessons by Carol Kozma

Follow on Twitter as @CarolKozmaSCT
"Artist-in-residence reviews math and life-long skills while playing drums" writes Carol Kozma.

Some 20 third-graders stood in two rows on stage at the Pulaski Elementary School as Rick Morin directed them.
“Run in place,” he instructed the students, as they stomped their feet on the spot. 
“We’ve got to get those muscles all warmed up,” he said, as students clapped their hands and rubbed their arms up and down. 
What sounds like gym class was actually a music class. For the past two weeks, Pulaski's third through fifth-graders have been getting drum lessons from Morin, an artist-in-residence, thanks to a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, said music teacher Amy Ouellette. Pulaski is a magnet school for the performing arts.
Along with drumming, the students have been reviewing math concepts and learning life skills.
“He’s a very dynamic presenter,” said Principal Tammy Morgan, watching Morin on stage. “He has a way of engaging the students.”
The “underlying message” she said, is for students to learn “how to work collaboratively, in a large group, to do music.” But the skills students learn “transcend music” she said. Case in point: after Morin told students to listen to his instructions, he pointed out that “in music you can hear teamwork . . .  you need to work as a team in life."
That said, there was also plenty of time for drumming. Soon enough, students picked up empty 5-gallon paint buckets and started hitting them in rhythm, first with hands, and then with drum sticks.
In concert with the drumming, they reviewed rhythm and other math concepts. The children yelled out “One!” when they hit the bucket to the floor, “Two!” when they took it back into their hands, “Three!” when they slammed it to the floor again, and on and on. 
“If a kid is having fun, they’re learning, that’s my thing,” Morin said after the lesson.
And they were having fun. Students smiled and giggled throughout the lesson. 
“It was really fun!” said Jake Moreira after the lesson, adding that he usually plays guitar and he enjoyed getting to try out something new.