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Kids with drums

Drum Talking

In Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie, Steven is crazy about drumming. Rhythm and percussion are great ways to express yourself, and not just if you’re a pro like Steven! I asked my fabulously talented friend Chelsea Gardner (who happens have a degree in music therapy) to give us a guest post this week, and she came up with a great one! Take it away, Chelsea!

Objective: To teach rhythm through words that sound like drums. (Adapted from George Grant’s Drum Talk)

Directions: Learn three “drum talk” words:  DOM, GHAGGIT, and CHICKA CHICKA. (If you know musical terms, DOM is equal to a half note, GHAGGIT is equal to two quarter notes, and CHICKA CHICKA is equal to four eighth notes. If you don’t know musical terms, just know that each word should take up the same amount of time.) If I were writing it as a math equation, it would look like this: DOM=GHAGGIT=CHICKA CHICKA. Hopefully that makes sense!

You can do this activity with or without rhythm instruments, or you can make your own. I like to use drums, claves and shaker eggs for this activity, but if you don’t have those things, you can use an empty oatmeal container or #10 can for a drum, two pencils or two wooden spoons or bang a sauce pan with a wooden spoon for claves, and an easter egg or any container filled with rice for a shaker. You can also use your body for body percussion: hit your chest with an open palm for the DOM sound, slap your thighs for the GHAGGIT sound, and snap your fingers for the CHICKA CHICKA sound, or whatever you would like!

First: Try saying the words and feeling their rhythm, then try having different people in your group or family say different words at the same time. If you have instruments, you can also play the rhythms as you say them. If you have instruments, try having the people with drums play the DOM rhythm, the people with claves or sticks play the GHAGGIT rhythm, and the people with shakers play the CHICKA CHICKA rhythm.

Second: Try putting together a pattern of 4 drum talk words, e.g. DOM, GHAGGIT, CHICKA CHICKA, GHAGGIT. Continue repeating that pattern. Have another person in the group come up with their own pattern of four words and try playing or saying them at the same time. If you have several siblings or friends doing this together, you can break the group into teams and each team can play the rhythm pattern together, or have each person come up with their own pattern of drum talk words and play or say them all together.
This is a great family or group activity! Listen to the difference in the sound you are creating as you add instruments or sounds, or change the order of the rhythms. This requires listening to one another and working together, both skills every person needs!

Have fun!

Thanks so much, Chelsea! Our kids honestly had such a great time doing this activity. We are all still chanting rhythms today. 🙂

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