«DrumPower Against Violence» – an intensive Week!

by Christian Galle-Hellwig and Yoshi Kinoshita, Music Therapy Trainers

It's an ordinary school day this week on which «DrumPower»is taking place. The children remain in their familiar setting together with classmates and class teachers. But now something new and unusual happens, because the whole class is being «displaced« and led into uncharted realms of experience.

One hears familiar but also foreign sounds and rhythms. They tell us a story about the children and their environments. Swelling conflicts soon become audible, as does a pause - the silence between the sounds. Through making music together, a bond eventually grows that would not be possible through words alone. Something arises which is difficult to put into words and yet is so clearly felt by everyone present.

We give our shared process a space that is free from the school marks 1 to 6. Although one can clearly hear that all students are in no way the same and do not play the instruments equally well, marks are unimportant, because every child can find his or her own place – like in an orchestra, where not only the first violin is needed, but the triangle also has an important function. That which is usually important in class loses its meaning, something else becomes evident. Good students, poor students – everyone changes their positions.

This week is enough to go a long way down this path. The goal of a final performance decisively spurs on the week's dynamics and the children are really engaging themselves: the performances till now have all been animated and artistic, underpinned by enjoyment and a strong sense of «we».

There are never any losers during this week – but always many winners. In the end, each person takes up his or her place from which he or she contributes to the success of a musical piece, rhythm, song or musical enactment. Finding one's place within the classroom community in such a manner is invaluable – also for later in life.

«This project had a lasting effect on the students and me. A week of the most intensive debate within the group – a process got underway which could be resumed during the regular school day.

When there was conflict between students, I was able to bring in their experiences of drumming and role play. In the course of this week, they experienced and felt what each step entails in the development of conflict, and very importantly, how one can have a positive effect within a group, and find a way out on one's own, before the situation escalates.

Since then I have not been able to convey this experience so intensively, not even in classes which participated once a week in a project with similar objectives.

Additional values such as listening to one another, saying stop, listening to someone say stop, finding one's own rhythm, settling down, were playfully taught in a vivid manner. These values have not only been useful in terms of conflict avoidance, but also in the classroom, whether it be in maths or German class.»

Maria Schott, Class Teacher 5a
Wolfratshausen Middle School