January 14, 2016


FMEA 2016

This week, we're presenting and exhibiting at the FMEA conference in Tampa, FL. Booth #3040. Hope to see you there! DD

FMEA 2016 Session Flyer

November 06, 2015


Great news report on our "Drumming Up Character" School Drum Day program in Milwaukee!

Oct. 16th , 2015 FOX 6 News Milwaukee by Laura Langemo

MEQUON -- The pounding of drums and shaking of maracas echoed through Donges Bay Elementary, building character and confidence note by note. "I felt really good. It was really fun," said 2nd grader Will Charles.

Steve Campbell, co-creator of the organization Dancing Drum, brought his program "Drumming Up Character” to the school, using instruments to teach the children how to work together as a team."Drumming is a great tool because you can actually hear when we`re working together and when we`re not," said Campbell.

Using that rhythm students create together to sing songs about respect, fairness, and caring.

"I think the most important thing is to realize that we have a lot more in common than we think, that rhythm is a universal language that we can use to learn more about each other and make new friends," said Campbell.

Teaching kids about life long hobbies and important values.

"I learned rhythm, I learned beat, I learned kind songs, and I learned how to play instruments I never knew about," said 2nd grader Kamora Johnson.

You could hear the music throughout the day at Donges Bay Elementary as "Drumming Up Character" held 6 sessions for students kindergarten to 5th grade.

See the video at this link:

October 16, 2015


Successful West African Drumming in the General Music Classroom

West African drumming is a fantastic experience I recommend for all music educators to expand their musical repertoire. When I traveled to West Africa, I was amazed and inspired by the depth of rhythmic and melodic expression that exists in this art form. I say melodic because the rhythms are taught in the form of a song of various pitches that the drum can make. All of the master drummers I studied with would sing the rhythms to me with their own language or “drum talk.” I found it was much easier to learn and retain these rhythms by singing them while I was playing them. 

Upon my return to the US, Dancing Drum co-creator Lindsay Rust and I developed a version of this technique called Rhythm Phonics, which uses drum sounds, words, and syllables to teach rhythmic patterns. The Drum Sounds are distilled into two essential tones: a low sound called “Boom” and a high sound called “Ba”.  These correspond to the Bass and Tone sound of the djembe. There is a third, higher slap sound played on the djembe, but that sound is too difficult for most K-8 students to make, so we do not use it in our general music programs.

The Words & Syllables of Rhythm Phonics are a verbal piece or song written so that the syllables of the phrase match the notes in the rhythm pattern. As this is a tool for learning, memory, and retention this phrase doesn’t necessarily have to originate from the West African source; we create a phrase that students can remember easily. We have used this two-part Rhythm Phonics method over the last decade in all of our Dancing Drum programs with incredible success.

When you hear West African drumming, there are so many rhythmic layers and syncopations happening that it is often difficult to know how to teach it successfully. Many music teachers have expressed to me how amazing it was to play a West African drumming piece at a conference session with all of their colleagues, but find it very difficult to replicate that experience in the general music classroom. Inside the polyrhythmic layers of a West African drumming arrangement is a pattern that contains its essence or theme and is usually the first rhythm taught to establish the foundation of the piece. In Dancing Drum, we call this the Signature Rhythm and I recommend starting your lesson with this pattern. 

To begin, introduce the Signature Rhythm verbally using Rhythm Phonics. After your students can sing this rhythm, have them play it in unison to develop their sense of groove, steadiness of tempo and understand the “feel” of rhythm. This unison playing is what we call a “Level 1” arrangement. Students should be able to play Level 1 before moving on to Level 2. For younger grade levels and student groups, a Level 1 arrangement can be the best fit for their abilities and works great as a classroom activity or performance piece. I encourage music teachers to not underestimate the benefits of focusing on a unison rhythm to teach students how to play in an ensemble and enhance their group listening skills. Once you have established a solid foundation by playing the unison Signature Rhythm, adding a 2nd and 3rd rhythm will be much easier and successful for your students.

In Level 2, we add a second part or “accompaniment" to make a two-part polyrhythm. We introduce the accompaniment verbally first, using Rhythm Phonics, then move to the drums to practice the part in unison. When the entire group has a good grasp on the feeling of the accompaniment, then we’re ready to try the Level 2 arrangement. When your students are ready for Level 3, repeat the same process and add the 3rd rhythm of the arrangement.

Our “Drumming Up World Music: West Africa” curriculum book utilizes all of these methods with drum and xylophone arrangements from 5 West African countries to get your students successfully playing and enjoying the richness of this music in the general music classroom. For more info about this book and Dancing Drum, please visit, http://dancingdrum.com/pages/drumming-up-world-music

Happy drumming!
Steve Campbell, Musical Director
Dancing Drum

July 27, 2015


Rhythmatize It! Drumming & Arts Integration

"Arts Integration" is a big movement in education these days, pushed to the forefront by great organizations like Turnaround Arts and The Kennedy Center. Fundamentally, the idea with arts integration is to utilize instruction in the arts - music, dance, theater, visual art - to connect with core academic subjects like language arts, math, and science. This approach has shown to be effective for many students, who can learn and explore core subjects more creatively, rather than learning by rote or more traditional forms of instruction. In effect, music (or visual art, or dance, or theatre) is the "hook" that gets kids engaged and more interested in succeeding at school.

Here at Dancing Drum, we've been focusing for many years on how to integrate core academics into our drumming programs. When we began Dancing Drum in California in 2002, virtually all music education had been cut from public schools. In effect, administrations had deemed music too unimportant for time or funding during the school day. This was a sad situation for many students. We felt that we needed core academic integration to justify our presence in the schools and developed curriculum materials to make connections between drumming and subjects like math, reading, social studies, and character education. Teachers, administrators, and students embraced our approach and we felt that it was a success!

Today, the idea of arts integration has gained more traction, as has the value of music education. More educators are talking about the value of music for music's sake, not just for the arts integration opportunities that it provides. There's also a robust and growing field of arts integration, with conferences and specialists devoted to sharing ideas and best practices, and research that shows its efficacy.

Earlier this summer, Dancing Drum was honored by an invitation to present at the Turnaround Arts Summer Institute at the Arlie Center in Virginia, a sprawling, historic farm and retreat center just a few miles from Washington DC. Our session, titled "Teach to the Beat! Enliven Classroom Instruction Through Rhythms & Chants", was attended by 30+ enthusiastic arts integration specialists from schools across the country, from Connecticut to Hawaii. During our hands-on session, we demonstrated the basics of leading drumming activities in the classroom, and led participants in their first experience of "rhythmatizing" a nonfiction text. This workshop focused on language arts, reading comprehension, and summarizing themes in an article about British scientist Jane Goodall, which we then turned into a rhythm and song on the drums. 

"Turnaround" schools are among the lowest performing schools in the country. Schools that adopt the "Turnaround Arts" model for school improvement are committed to bettering their schools through an intense regimen of arts integration. In the first three years of Turnaround Arts, they've produced impressive outcomes, like a 22.55% improvement in math proficiency and a 12.62% improvement in reading. Discipline and attendance statistics have also improved significantly, and it's inevitable that the energy at these schools has overwhelmingly shifted towards positive, uplifting, and happy, which couldn't be better for students and their learning outcomes.

Turnaround Arts Summer Institute 2015

Turnaround Arts Summer Institute

For more information on Turnaround Arts and their evaluation report, visit this link: http://turnaroundarts.pcah.gov/impact/



July 22, 2015


Grand Opening Celebration of the Broadmoor Arts & Wellness Center, New Orleans, LA

Saturday, August 1st, 1:00-3:00pm - Join us as we celebrate the grand opening of a sparkling, new resource for the New Orleans community! Special guests will be on-hand for the ribbon cutting, and attendees can learn about all of the great classes and resources offered through the new facility, which include drumming classes for kids and adults, yoga, dance, counselling and conflict resolution, birthing classes, art classes, quilting, and more! As part of the day's events, Dancing Drum will host a special interactive drumming session for all ages! Drums provided. RSVP here:
March 02, 2015


A different way to visualize rhythm

In standard notation, rhythm is indicated on a musical bar line. But there are other ways to visualize rhythm that can be more intuitive. In this TED Talk, John Varney describes the ‘wheel method’ of tracing rhythm and uses it to take us on a musical journey around the world.


What do you think? Is the "wheel method" something that you can apply in your music classroom?

October 29, 2014


Dancing Drum Success Stories

We've heard some great feedback from music teachers about the successes that they've had using Dancing Drum materials in their classes. Have you used "Drumming Up Character" or "Drumming Up World Music" with your students? Do you have any success stories that you would like to share with the world? How have you implemented Dancing Drum in your school? How did your students react? Do you have "at risk" students or students with behavioral issues who exceeded all expectations during their Dancing Drum sessions? We would be happy to hear about your experiences! Please feel free to share them below.
September 27, 2014


Why so many kids can't sit still in school today, via Washington Post

Many educators agree that children aren't wired to sit still in class for hours each day. They need movement and play to develop their motor skills and actively engage in learning. We believe that focused, daily drumming sessions can help many students by providing a structured outlet for their abundant energy, and the energetic release of active drumming makes way for better attention during classroom STEM instruction time. What do you think? Can on-task drumming sessions improve a student's focus during academic study time? #wapo #washingtonpost
September 15, 2014

1 Comment

We need your help!

Our website has a new "Customer Reviews" feature. Can you help us with a review or two? Have you used any Dancing Drum materials - drum or books - in your classroom or elsewhere? Do you have some information or opinions that you can contribute that will help others with their purchase? Please visit our products page at this link:
Select any item, scroll down to the lower half of the page, and click on "Write a Review". Thanks for your help! We truly value your feedback.
August 01, 2014


New School Year News & Updates

Excitement is building for the new school year, and like many of you, we’re busy wrapping up summer projects while planning for the fall. Here’s a quick update to fill you in on Dancing Drum's news and plans for 2014-15:

First off, we’re happy to announce our NEW WEBSITE, which was just posted yesterday, at this link:
It’s still under construction and a bit rough around the edges, but the big stuff is there and ready for browsing. Please take a look and let us know what you think! The new site is much more user friendly, and we look forward to keeping our friends updated through our new blog and Instagram accounts.

Secondly, we just posted a bunch of new tour dates for the 2014-15 school year at this link:
If you’re interested booking an interactive drumming assembly, workshop-to-performance, residency program, or professional development for your school, simply respond to this email with your interest and we’ll send you our 2014-15 School Programs PDF which includes information on our current programs and rates. If you’re interested in a Dancing Drum program and your geographical area is not listed, just send us a message with some info about what you have in mind and we’ll see what we can do!

We have a new shipment of the Dancing Drum BoomBa Series arriving in mid-September, which will include a plentiful supply of each BoomBa instrument for your music classroom. Here’s a link with more info:
We are accepting orders now for delivery by the end of September.

All other Dancing Drum materials are in stock and ready for delivery in August! Contact us for an estimate for djembes, djun-djuns, percussion Tubz, bells, drum stands, curriculum books, drum packages, and anything else you need for your music classroom.
We are in the office and ready to assist with all of your drumming and percussion requests!

As a friend of Dancing Drum, you’ll be the first to know when our newest publication, titled “Jump in the Rhythm”, becomes available this September. Here’s a teaser with some additional info about what we’ve been working on:
We can’t wait to get this new book finished and into your hands!

Here’s a review that we received from a teacher in California. He says:
“Dancing Drum’s program creates a community of respect, it exposes them to other cultures and connects them to their own culture, it is active and fun, and there is immediate success. The drumming sounds fantastic. All of the students feel successful and relate to the beat. Music is so important to this age group, and it is an excellent bridge for cross-curriculum writing and math. Socially, it creates teamwork and is an excellent release of emotion that is often held inside.”
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves!