Drummers close intergenerational gap

Students in the World Drumming class performed for local elementary students, seniors

Ivy Kaplan

When thinking of elementary students and senior citizens, not many similarities come to mind. However, the World Drumming class at the high school proved that there is one that the two groups share – a mutual excitement for music.

On Thursday, Nov. 14th, the high schools World Drumming class performed at the Tower Light senior center for approximately 30 seniors, and at Park Spanish Immersion Elementary School for approximately 200 students, according to World Drumming teacher Steve Schmitz.

Since it was established four years ago, this was the first field trip World Drumming students have gotten to take and demonstrate their skills and achievements.

Schmitz said he believed these students were prepared to perform and to show the community what they are capable of.

“They show a sense of pride in the group, in their equipment and within themselves,” he said. “I just thought it would be really good for the kids to relate to some people that are quite a bit older and younger than them, just to build that connection in the community.”

Senior Benjamin Grad said he enjoyed making a connection during the two performances with the audiences of different ages.

“It felt really nice teaching the old and the young the same basic principles of music,” Grad said. “No matter what their age was, it looked like both of our audiences had fun.”

At Park Spanish Immersion, the program consisted of the drummers teaching the kids some of their songs and the students singing along with them, Schmitz said.

Senior Joey Walker said that among the Park Spanish Immersion audience, the students seemed very excited and enthusiastic about the performance.

“A lot of the kids thought it was very cool and were very interactive and sang with us,” Walker said. “I enjoyed both performances, but seeing the kids blown away by the intense sound of the drums was great.”

Park Spanish Immersion principal, Corey Maslowski agreed and said the students and staff were thrilled with the performance.

“The staff was smiling, the kids were clapping, and as some kids were getting on their buses, I could hear them singing or humming some of the songs,” Maslowski said. ““We thought they did a fantastic job.”

Additionally, the program differed for the seniors at Tower Light due to the smaller audience. There, students were paired up one on one with a senior, and would teach them their drum part in a song. The seniors then played the song at the end, using the knowledge they had learned from the students, according to Schmitz.

Maggie Sonsteby, Activities Director and Music Therapist at Tower Light said the seniors enjoyed the experience and they encourage these types of intergenerational programming.

“The seniors really enjoyed it and after they started playing, even more seniors came to check out what was happening,” Sonsteby said. “I was very impressed overall.”