Introduction to the World of Percussion and Rhythm

Curriculum Objectives: 
• To develop participants' ability to interpret music and sound by ear 
• To enhance participants' ability to communicate non-verbally 
• To expose participants to many different instruments and the sounds they make 
• To teach the steps associated with the development of percussion 
• To emphasize an appreciation of the environment 
• To learn creative ways to reuse obsolete objects 

Program Description: 
The emphasis of this program is exposing individuals to a multi-cultured experience by introducing percussion instruments from around the world. 

Participants will learn about the evolution of percussion: 
• man's first rhythm instruments — his hands and his feet; 
• adding natural elements from the earth's floor — rocks and sticks; 
• bringing into focus the use of plant life and animal parts — seed pods and toe rattles; 
• working up to implied tonal and membrane instruments — thumb pianos and drums; and 
• incorporating found objects such as auto parts and household wares. 

Throughout the presentation, I make it a point of observing the environment around us, calling attention to awareness of the rhythm and sounds that all things create, including ourselves. Understanding percussion and rhythm and the impact it has on our emotions becomes more evident when people become physically involved. The biggest opportunity offered within this program is a group improvisation based on a simple rhythm that incorporates many of the instruments presented. Size of the group involved in this drum circle will be determined when the program is scheduled; for a large assembly program, the demonstration group will use instruments and the larger audience will be called upon to clap their hands and stomp their feet to create the firm pulse necessary to play a steady rhythm. The importance of this exercise is to hear and feel the way in which each instrument interacts and supports each other. 

Additional materials provided to instructors for classroom use: 
• Detailed outline of presentation 
• Charts outlining percussion instrument families (membranophones/idiophones) 
• World map showing geographic distribution of world instruments 
• Match the instrument picture to its name 
• Multiple choice pre- or post-quiz 
• Lesson-reinforcing games: Crossword puzzle, Connect-the-dots, and Word Search 
• 50–75 people as a fully participatory program (60 minutes), or 
• full assembly program with 16–20 participants demonstrating concepts on stage (45-60 minutes) 
Recommended Ages: 3 and up 

Brian Melick, drummer and multi-hand percussionist, has taught workshops and masterclasses throughout the Northeast and Canada. He has been a featured facilitator at Music Therapists International Conferences and Percussive Arts Society's International Conventions, and serves on the World Percussive Committee for the Percussive Arts Society. He has taught people of all ages, from pre-schoolers to senior citizens, whose musical education ranged from none to years of study. Much-demanded, highly participatory workshops include Introduction to the World of Percussion and Rhythm, The World of Udu Drums, and Making and Playing Percussion Instruments out of Found Objects. Educators have used Brian's workshops as illustrations in such diverse fields as physics, social studies, art, history, environmentalism and religion, as well as music. Creating music from found objects reinforces curricula about recycling, stressing the interconnectedness of the natural and man-made worlds. The importance of percussion as a vehicle to express man's spiritual beliefs emerges through exploration of the Nigerian Udu Drums. 
Read review and comments below... 

For more information on workshop and fee schedule, please contact Mrs. Martha Stamm, Educational Program Coordinator, by email at 
Introduction to the World of Percussion (Jul 19, 2007) 

~ Reviews & Comments - 

The two programs that you facilitated here [at the Troy Public Library] were wonderful. 
It was amazing how you were able to capture the preschoolers and toddlers attention and then, even more amazing how you kept them captivated. That's not an easy task with such young children but you appeared to do it quite naturally, with ease. 
The school age kids had a ball! … [T]here was a huge amount of focus and concentration put forth. I think every single person in the room forgot there was anybody else in the room at least once. What surprised me was that the parents had that same intense experience. 
Your ability to work a room, giving each and every person individual attention which keeping everybody in the room completely engrossed is a gift. 
Kim French Kniele, Head of Young People's Services 
Troy Public Library, Troy, New York 

Thank you so very much for the wonderful performance you provided … at the Bethlehem Public Library's Summer Reading Club "Blast Off" event. Your … workshop was both entertaining and informative. 
… [E]very child present was given the chance to play at least three different percussion instruments during the program that invited full participation. Your collection of instruments was incredible, and your interactive presentation was lively and kept the children interested … It is no wonder that the children (and the adults present) really seemed to enjoy this evening with you! 
I highly recommend your program, and hope we can arrange … workshops in the future at BPL. Again, I wish to express our sincere thanks to you for a memorable event. 
Lucinda Robertson, Librarian, Youth Services Dept. 
Bethlehem Public Library, Delmar, New York