‘How can I keep from singing?’

Rockway music class takes to drumming instead

November 4, 2020 | News | Volume 24 Issue 23
Janet Bauman | Eastern Canada Correspondent
Grade 10 music students at Rockway Mennonite Collegiate in Kitchener, Ont., take to drumming outside on the back field of their school in order to explore music in a different way while pandemic protocols prohibit them from singing or playing wind instruments inside the classroom. (Photos by Leanne Lobe)

Eric Dettweiler’s Grade 10 music class at Rockway Mennonite Collegiate in Kitchener began the school year drumming every day for the first few weeks, often outdoors. Now the 11 students drum a couple of times a week. It is a safe way to conduct a music class while maintaining physical distance in the reality of pandemic protocols.

According to Dettweiler, besides being fun, drumming “helps to develop a strong sense of rhythm and ensemble,” skills that are “foundational to all music making.” And beyond that, “drumming is a great way to explore improvisation and composition.”

Dettweiler, who also teaches Grade 7 and 8 music, was forced to find creative ways to offer music classes without singing or playing wind instruments together. He says his students have also been playing music on boomwhackers (pitched percussion tubes), and “exploring electronic composition using a digital music production software called Soundtrap.”

He reports, “We have been having lots of fun in this class,” exploring music in a “different way than we normally would be able to in a traditional band or choir course.”

Drums and boomwhackers are sanitized before and after every use, according to COVID-19 protocols.

Do you have a story idea about Mennonites in Eastern Canada? Send it to Janet Bauman at ec@canadianmennonite.org.

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Grade 10 music students at Rockway Mennonite Collegiate in Kitchener, Ont., take to drumming outside on the back field of their school in order to explore music in a different way while pandemic protocols prohibit them from singing or playing wind instruments inside the classroom. (Photos by Leanne Lobe)

Grade 10 music students at Rockway Mennonite Collegiate in Kitchener, Ont., take to drumming outside on the back field of their school in order to explore music in a different way while pandemic protocols prohibit them from singing or playing wind instruments inside the classroom. (Photos by Leanne Lobe)

Eric Dettweiler, standing left, a music teacher at Rockway Mennonite Collegiate in Kitchener, Ont., leads his Grade 10 music class in an outdoor drumming exercise.

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