Drum roll, please – students to present energetic percussion show

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PENDLETON — Sixth-grade students at East Elementary School are preparing for a unique music program coming up after spring break.

“Music in Motion” will feature the fifth-graders playing the recorder and the school choir’s spring sing at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 13.

And sixth-graders will offer something new — they will demonstrate bucket drumming, jump bands and Drums Alive.

Drums Alive combines drumming and fitness using large rubber stability balls and coordinated movement to music, according to music teacher Heather Walton. She is working with students to develop the skills to pull off the show.

The performance is also known by other names, such as DrumFit, but the premise is the same, Walton said.

The students will hit rubber balls with drum sticks, moving to a steady beat; improving flexibility, strength and cardiovascular wellness; reducing stress and having fun.

“In music class, our focus is on learning a choreographed fitness routine that emphasizes a steady beat and fun visuals,” Walton said.

After the show, when the equipment is passed on to the physical education teacher, the focus will be to keep heart rates and kinesthetic awareness up.

“Either way, it’s a great workout, especially for the music teacher,” Walton said with a laugh. “The kids are loving it, and the teachers are asking for an organized class so they can do workouts.”

The unique way to play has become a coveted part of Walton’s music class at East Elementary.

Walton received money for the stability balls as a donation from a big box retailer last year and started the unit while teaching music at Pendleton Elementary School.

Music and P.E. teachers decided to share the equipment and requested to use it throughout the year.

Even though sixth-graders are using the big rubber balls for their drum show program, Walton has started giving lessons to all students, with great results.

“It’s so easily adaptable for any age,” Walton said.

She said she’s seen the drumming technique used for music therapy with the elderly.

Walton has written lessons but doesn’t need to use them.

“I make up all my own choreography and put it to music I think will engage the kids the best,” she said.

The sixth-graders have enjoyed working with the rubber balls, Walton said.

But they’re also looking forward to the end of the unit; Walton said she promised students they’ll pile the balls into a corner of the room and then everyone will have a chance to jump into them.