Rhythm is heart magic: Storying the experiences of year 2 children in a drumming circle 

Year: 2014

Author: Elizabeth, Mackinlay

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In December 2013 I had the privilege of making music together with Year 2 children in a Brisbane primary school. Every Friday for 45 minutes, the children sat in a drumming circle and played djembes, dun duns, shekeres and cow bells. The beats flowed, rhythmic patterns rang out and together the children created, as one student described it, their very own kind of ‘heart magic’. Soundy reminds us that children’s “pictures can be worth a thousand words, if you let them tell you their story” (2012, p. 45) and in this paper, I explore the visual and verbal stories that the children created to share what they learnt about drumming in this context, their perceptions of the social and musical world of drumming circles, and the ways in which they were understood and made individual and collective meaning from their drumming experiences. The term ‘story’ is used here in a contemporary sense to simultaneously invoke a socially and musically situated and constructed story; as an account to self and others about drumming in a particular place, with a particular group of children during a particular set of events; and, to explore narratives of drumming as the shared relational work of myself as a drummer, teacher, researcher and story-teller/story-liver alongside the children. The children’s drawings are positioned in this discussion as visual representations which express real, imaginary and metaphoric thinking about drumming, and the conversations I had with the children about their drawings give voice to and enhance the meanings they hold. The ‘talk and draw’ stories have the potential to teach us much if we care to learn about the centrality of creativity, imagination and the arts to children’s educational experiences.