I had the privilege of working in the Kindergarten Prep classroom in my center for a few hours on Friday. Friday is “Show-and-Share” day, so the children were excited to show me the toys that they had brought from home. The boys brought cars and super-hero themed items for the most part, and a couple of the girls brought dolls. But the item that created the need to make a band was an electronic drum pad that one girl brought in.
She had been sitting at the table playing with the drum pad when I happened to notice a book in the music area called “How to Play the Drums.” Excitedly we opened the book and began to talk about the different types of drums in a drum set. Soon the whole class was gathered around as we matched the sound of each pad on her set (there were four pads) to a different type of drum pictured in the book. The really fun part was when she asked me to teach her how to play – I grabbed a set of rhythm sticks out of the music area to use as drum sticks. After trying in vain to approximate some sort of drum set rhythm on the electronic pads, the girl gave up and said to the class, “Let’s make a band!”
What happened next was nothing short of extraordinary, in my eyes. These children, who I have seen antagonizing and bickering for weeks, worked together to create a band. They each grabbed instruments out of the music center, and set themselves up in the largest space they could find. One child grabbed a rhythm stick and designated himself the conductor. He led the children in fast and slow rhythms. The girl with the drum pads passed the set off to another child and went in search of an item to use for a microphone. She sang her heart out! She had an amazing voice and an even more amazing stage presence. The children took turns playing different parts of the band – completely voluntarily with no help or guidance from me. It was a completely cooperative effort and the kids made it happen by themselves.
Sometimes I think we forget how capable children can be. When I see experiences like this, it always blows me away. We forget about the power of working together toward a common goal, and we forget about what can be accomplished if we just back off a little bit. All it took was a little spark, the drum book, and the idea was born. Through one idea, the children created something of value to them. Of course, being the teacher that I am, I came up with a million projects that could be done to extend the experience in a million ways. And at some point I will have the opportunity to do those projects, when the musical urge comes to my own class. It shouldn’t take long; children love music. But this experience shows how much children are capable of when that spark happens and they are given the freedom to act upon their own creative urges.