Transformation Through Drum Building

sd42-environmental-school-student-building-a-drumDrums are an instrument that are used daily at the Environmental School and the students therefore already have a strong connection and relationship with them. Having them build their own drums was the next step in creating a deeper more meaningful, personal connection. This paper will document the full circle of learning that takes place within the building of the drums. Beginning with learning about smudging and blessing of the material from our Kwantlen elder, to sawing, sanding and putting together our frames, to shaping and attaching the hide to the frame, to painting the hide and then the students eventually learning how to play the drum. As this project intends to be very cross curricular, this paper will also focus on different curricular components that are covered and emerge throughout the process of drum building. This will be shown through individual stories, photos and teacher reflections on the process. As I personally work with mainly kindergartens and grade 1 students, this age group will be the focus of this content. I was extremely interested in the personal and cultural growth within the school I was extremely interested in the personal and cultural growth within the school community that may emerge from this project and this paper speaks not only of the growth, but also the professional and philosophic growth that I as an educator have gone through during the planning and building process with my students.

The project of drum building was ignited by Clayton Maitland, our school principal. He spoke to me about his process of getting to know of the histories and knowledges of place, he found drum to be quite significant. He thought that having students build their own drums would provide the community with a “connection to the histories and knowledges, as a sense gain a deeper understanding of Mother Earth and as a connection to song. ” Clayton then shared these ideas with Hearth Keepers (group of teachers, parents and community members that come together to create a voice for the community where decisions are made based upon consensus). He then set up a drum making and story telling experience with Katzie First Nation at Swan-e-set Longhouse. This experience then inspired us to create the drum building project for our students, which then could open up many different possibilities and opportunities for learning. Then, as a community, gathered resources and one mother from our school applied for a grant from AIC-Artists in the Classroom that would assist in the costs. We received this grant last fall and are using the funds to cover drum-making supplies and to pay for
the costs of hiring Lekeyten, a Kwantlen elder who performs in ceremonies throughout the community. “Lekeyton has been an Elder in Residence at Kwantlen Polytech University and an Advisor to Simon Fraser University. He provides cultural teachings at the Langley Child Development Centre and has taught drumming circles to children as young as pre-school”(Robertson, 2014). In January 2015, 88 students ages 5-13 began learning how to build their own individual Aboriginal Drum with help from community members, including Grandparents, parents, formers students and their parents, teachers and Lekeyten, who shares stories of the drum, teaches local traditions, provide cultural knowledge, teach drum making, drumming and song. (Continues on Page 5 of the following pdf)

Click here to view: Transformation Through Drum Building: A Look at One School’s Journey and Leaning Through Crafting