Yet another day when I found myself astounded to think, “I get paid for this?” Here I was with the three-year olds and a birthday-cake stack of nested hand drums with rainbow mallets radiating out. They walked in the room and exclaimed, “It looks like the sun!” and off we went, singing and dancing, “Sally go ‘round the sun” with its contrasting “Boom boom!!” at the end inviting us to sit down. Anyone who knows three-year olds knows they are all impulse, eager to touch, taste and try out whatever is set before them. So it’s a little cruel to suggest— no, insist—no, threaten them (kindly and with a smile) with the possibility that they won’t ever play the drum today if they pick up a mallet before I invite them.
A quick go-around clapping the rhythms of their names for my own review (this was only my second class with them, after all) and then one by one, they lifted off the top drum and squealed in delight when they saw another drum below, stacked like those famous Russian dolls. As each picked up their drum, we softly played their names on it— and they sounded good!
From there, it’s marching and galloping and jumping and tiptoeing and twirling with drums in hand trying (or not) to make some coherent connections between the rhythms in the feet and those in the hands. I’m playing some piano to help glue it all together and they’re in seventh heaven. And then I invite their fantasy life to unfold as they walk with drum umbrellas over their head or drive around with drum steering wheels or wear drum masks over their faces as they dance or eat from their drum plates. They push the drums around the floor with their mallets, dance around them and jump over them and most fun of all, sit inside them and row their boats around. That’s when I think of all the folks sitting at their computers in terminals making graphs of profit margins and am so happy that I get to row around the floor in a big hand drum and call it work.
As fine as that was, there was more. They rowed up to my feet and one by one, we had a little drum conversation. I played something and then they played something back. When it got to one little girl, she looked at me with a twinkle in her eye and said, “Play something sparklely, because I feel really sparklely today!” Besides the sheer delight of such an exuberant proclamation, it was probably the most difficult musical challenge I’ve had in a while—just how do you play something sparkeley with a mallet on a hand-drum? I did my best, she answered back and off we went to lunch, all of us feeling a bit more sparklely spending 30 minutes with hand drums and the fireworks of the human imagination.
I can’t wait to go back to work tomorrow!