In connection with the fourth grade Migration unit, and in collaboration with Library, music students in fourth grade have started to become familiar with the book, "To Be a Drum," by Evelyn Coleman, with art by Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson.
I discovered this book through Sue Mueller at an Orff-Schulwerk professional development workshop a couple years ago, (thanks to Run for the Arts) and was inspired to bring this story back to school for our children to explore.
It is the story told by a father to his children about the forced migration of Africans into slavery. Evelyn Coleman's story introduces us to a time "before hours and minutes and seconds on the continent of Africa, when the rhythm of the Earth beat for the first people." "The spirit rose on the wind and flew into our bodies. And our own hearts beat for the first time." "The beat pushed out from our fingers and our drum was born."
To provide some musical context for this story we have been singing a few songs from Ghana. I can't stress enough how Run for the Arts is impacting our children's global awareness. When I was in Nashville for the AOSA conference I participated in two sessions with J.S. Kofi Gbolonyo. One session was exclusively Ghanaian children's games. Kofi explained that in Ghana five year-olds start playing them with older kids up to teenagers. Here's one example of a game song we are learning in class, "Moma Kofi Oseei." Fourth graders remarked that children's games from Ghana are complicated. "And Musical!"
Please ask your child about this story. Feel free to share any insights and discoveries your child has made through this inquiry and creative process.