Alta beats the drum for Griffin Center kids

Above, Craig Norton from Hands on Drumming in New Britain leads a drum circle last week when 40 preschoolers from the Margaret C. Griffin Child Development Center visited Alta at the Pyne Center.

By SHERIDAN ROY

STAFF WRITER

Alta at the Pyne Center, Southington’s alternative education high school, enjoyed some music making with their next-door neighbors, the preschoolers from Margaret C. Griffin Child Development Center last week.

About 40 preschoolers visited the school and were joined by student volunteers and professional drummer Craig Norton from Hands on Drumming in New Britain. Norton and the student volunteers set up personal drums of varying shapes and sizes in one large drum circle.

“I’ve provided the professional drumming circle, and today I’ll just be a facilitator for the group while they create music together,” said Norton.

Norton helped the preschoolers use their imagination to travel back in time to a drum circle with the Native Americans, then across the Atlantic Ocean to western Africa, and over to the Caribbean Islands.

“In the Caribbean Islands, I learned the word, ‘diaspora,’ which describes how lifestyles can travel around the world,” said Norton. “A lot of our families come from different countries. Much of our food and clothing comes from different places around the world.”

Young students not only learned a bit about different cultures’ music, but got to experience it and re-create it.

“This whole thing was about creativity,” said Alta student Devon Hope. “It wasn’t like math, where all you see is the final result. We saw them learning as they go.”

Hope was joined by fellow students Edell Bevans, Marina Oulundsen and Carissa Cayer for the first round of drumming. A second group of preschoolers were joined by four other student volunteers later in the day.

“I think this was a good chance for them to let loose and for us to do the same with them, while still learning about other cultures,” said Oulundsen.

The program, “one world multicultural drum and dance,” taught students about music around the globe through interactive learning.

“I think this was a unique experience for all of us and it also taught me that learning doesn’t always have to be structured,” said Cayer. “They had fun even though they didn’t always follow the directions, but the instructor let them do their own things.”

Bevans said she saw firsthand how making music encouraged the young students to let their personalities and own creativity come out.

“Our students get an appreciation for working with the preschool students, helping them to learn,” said Alta at the Pyne school counselor Mark Hill. “And, I think for all of us, something like this can open our minds to learning something new about multicultural activities.”

Alta at the Pyne and Griffin Child Development Center started a partnership last fall and have been collaborating on activities since then.

“It’s great to have that collaboration between the students,” said Hill.

To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Roy, email her at SRoy@SouthingtonObserver.com.

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