In my last article on this topic, I wrote about how we’ve been using games to get kids excited about learning drumming. These games work; we’ve been continuing to use them with younger students. You can read that first article here: Drum Lessons For Kids: Focus on Fun.
Here are 3 new ideas that you may find helpful with 4 to 6 year olds:
1) Coloring Activity
Kids need to know what the different parts of the drum set are. We’ve been using a coloring game to teach them. The coloring page has a cartoon-ish looking line drawing of a drum set, with spaces for the kids to write down the names of each drum or cymbal. And the fun part is the coloring—they can color each drum or cymbal with any color they like. They simply have to name the part of the drum set that they are coloring (that’s how we sneak in the learning part), and tell us why they chose that color.
Some examples of the answers we get?
“I colored the bass drum green because I like frogs!”
Do frogs have anything to do with drums? Well, no, but if this youngster likes frogs and wants to color the bass drum green, it’s OK with us!
Plus, our goal is accomplished: he now knows the name of the bass drum and what it looks like….and he’s not likely to forget it.
2) Arts and Crafts Activities
We have the kids build a drum or percussion instrument from scratch, using household items. The easiest one to make is a home-made “shaker.” A shaker is just that—-a percussion instrument you shake (rather than strike) to provide a rhythm. A shaker is just a container that has particles inside.
Taking an empty 16 oz plastic soda bottle, filling it with uncooked rice and screwing the top back on is a great way to quickly make a shaker. Its fun. And they’ve made their own percussion instrument.
Then, we have the kids guess how many pieces of rice are in the teacher’s shaker, and who ever gets closest to the right answer wins a prize. Fun.
3) Human Drum Set
One thing we like to do when beginning drum lessons for kids is play a game. With the human drum set game, we have several kids make different repeating rhythms with their voices. We show them the separate sounds we want them each to make, and the rhythm we want them each to sing. When the kids sing them simultaneously, they are making a drum beat, and each kid is providing the sound of a different part of the drum set.
For an example, see what each of three kids might sing and how they fit together:
Kid 1: chick chick chick chick (continuous eighth notes, just like a cymbal)
Kid 2: Boom Boom (a bass drum pattern)
Kid 3: bap (a snare drum pattern, on the backbeat)
When it all happens at once, they’re creating a drum beat: “boom boom bap.” The exercise demonstrates how the different parts of the drum set fit together to make drum beats.
These fun ideas have been working for us as an intro to drum lessons for kids. We hope they work for you too.