In this blog Ashirwad brings to us a leaf from his diary, notes from one such drumming session with the children and his reflection on it…Children, Drum Your Heart Out!
The children did not settle down, in the beginning. Pratinav was reluctant to come into the class room. He was cajoled and told that the door wouldn’t be closed unless he came in, and slowly he consented. He sat in the corner and was playing his piece on the djembe. He initially said ‘I don’t like to sing’. So, we created a tune and sang ‘I don’t like to sing’. Slowly, he settled in.
Arvind cried and shouted in the beginning. I leaped towards the fan like a monkey and fell down with a wobble. He was amused and insisted that I did it again and again. That settled him, in no time. Soon, he was smiling and ready to try his hands on the tabla and djembe. He enjoyed listening to the songs and was responding to the drumming.
Karthik was interested in the nuts-bolts of the congo. He unscrewed one and put it back. He liked the uneven surface of the tabla and tried plucking off the shyai from the dagga a couple of times. He banged on the congo many times. He liked to occupy the chair placed behind the congo. He tried his hands on the tabla and dholak too. After the congo, when the dholak was given to him, he tried to bang it from the top. A staff demonstrated, how to bang it from the sides and he imitated it well. He was frequently moving from one instrument to another, one corner to the other.
Sai Charan walked in midway through the class, were doing an exercise, wherein I wanted to sensitise children, and had told them to lie down with their backs touching the ground. When the body is in full contact with the ground, the sound conducted to the whole being is different than when you stand. I wanted to experiment with this. Sai seemed restless. He wanted to go to his mother and was crying for her. Most children managed to lie down on the ground. A good 3-4 minutes of drumming happened, when they were lying down. Sai Charan did multiple rounds of lying-sitting-bowing, almost like he was doing a prayer, Namaz.
Ahan chose to move to a small store room, attached to the session-room. Anagha, a staff, left a djembe inside and later we found that he had picked it and was playing it.
It was the first session for Abhiram. He had never stayed in the past with anybody else, other than his mother. While his mom was in the parents’ session, he became an integral part of the children’s session. He has motor difficulties and is unable to stand independently. Anagha, supported him. When the drumming started, he moved back and forth with that rhythm of the drums. To check if Abhiram’s rhythmic movement had anything to do with the drums, I decided to play the drums to a rhythm alternately. When I stopped playing the drums, I noticed that Abhiram’s movements when out of sync. They automatically fell into sync, almost seamlessly, when I restarted the drums.
My sons, Chirantan and Arnav were playing their drums as an accompaniment for songs like ‘jaaa ne ja, dhoondata fir yahan’, ‘though all things perish from under the sky’ and other fast paced songs.
Towards the end of the session, I made sounds like a cow calls, those of a bull calling a cow and the cow saying ‘no’. We did this musically with cat and dog calls as well. The sound ‘Aa’ exercises the navel area of the body. The idea of making these sounds was to get in touch with the energy centre and open up the possibility of changing energy patterns in the children.
Overall, there was a sense of peaceful chaos in the session. I felt satisfied that each child soaked in the activities and the experience differently, in their own unique way. When I reflect on this session and the many other sessions that I have facilitated, I realise that drumming can be very intense and it has the ability to crack open an untouched corner of our being.
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