Drumming By Number


As I type this post Steve and I are about 3 weeks away from our wedding day! I could not be more excited!

Thank you to everyone who replied or commented on my Here Comes the Bride Post with fun song suggestions for our reception. We have lots of great songs to choose from – let me know if you think of any more!

Amidst the whirlwind and excitement of wedding planning, I have not forgotten the importance of immersing myself totally and completely in my music therapy sessions, and leaving all else outside the door. (That seems to be a pretty good rule of thumb at other times as well!)

As I’ve written about, I love when my clients are the ones who help me generate new and creative ideas. Last week, I watched one of the children I work with line up four drums in a row and begin playing them in a random order. That sparked this idea:

Drumming By Number:

I lined up four drums.

I placed a number on each drum: 1, 2, 3, 4.

I told him: “Listen, watch, and repeat after me.”

Then I played one drum at a time while saying the number of that drum. For example: “1, 2, 3, 4”

Then he repeated back by playing the drum and saying the corresponding number: “1, 2, 3, 4”

Then I played: “2, 4, 3, 1”

He echoed back and played “2, 4, 3, 1”

This continued for a while. Then we switched and HE was the leader and I followed the patterns he came up with.

* Variations: add drums of different sizes and timbres. Add more numbers. Use letters. The list goes on and on depending on what your client need to work on. Just yesterday during this activity I began singing on a different pitch for each number (1 = do, 2 = re, 3 = me, 4 = fa). Very effective!

It was the coolest experience because we both were partners in coming up with the activity. He was so engaged, we did this activity (with variations) for TEN MINUTES!!! That is a long time for any child to attend to an activity, no matter how engaging it is.

In that time, we packed in skill-building in many different areas: sequencing, imitation, attention, improvising, eye-hand coordination, just to name a few. I am looking forward to adding many different variations on this activity. For now, I would love to hear from YOU!

Leave a comment below and let me know how you use drumming to work on the skills I listed above (imitation, improvising, sequencing, etc.)

Image courtesy of [africa] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Comments (14)

  • Ashley Lundquist

    Great idea thanks!

    • Amy

      You’re welcome Ashley! 🙂

  • Andrea Yun-Springer

    I love it! I’ve done something similar with colors on top of the drum or nothing at all if the client can handle it. We call it “Musical Simon” like the handheld game Simon. Using up to 6 drums, this intervention even gets tricky for the MT when the client leads 🙂

    • Amy

      Andrea I LOVE that idea!!!! Thanks for sharing!

  • English

    Great idea! I have not put numbers on the drums for sequencing but we have done colors. One of my students just had a sequencing objective put on his IEP. It’s for stories but this will be great to do with him too. I’m thinking I can even add it to the sequencing pictures I have…put a drum by each picture….hey you have sparked some great ideas!

    • Amy

      Yay for sparking new ideas! You just sparked some for me, as well!

  • Carol

    I mainly work with groups of adults who are suffering from mental illness or dementia. When appropriate I arrange the group in a circle and use Sound Shapes for drumming activities. At some point the circle closes in as close as possible and each person holds their shape toward the center of the circle. Each person then improvises, playing every shape with it’s varied timbre. The patients love it. It fosters expression, cooperation, hand /eye coordination, crossing mid-line, plus the smiles and laughter are a great emotional boost; for some of the patients their initiation to participate is a real accomplishment.

    • Carol

      I posted this because it is along the same line as what you are talking about – multiple ‘drums’ and improvisation with purpose. Hope that is okay.

      • Amy

        OOooooh I LOVE the idea you posted! Thank you Carol for sharing! And sharing ideas is what this is all about, so of course it is okay!! Thank you 🙂

  • Kate Jackson

    I really like this idea. Was going to try it with a client last week but he was on an off day so not ideal to try new things! Will be trying it this week.

    I made up another number game for a child who has motor and balance issues…..I put 1-10 on different blocks that he had to hop to the right numbers, while singin ‘1,2,3,4,5 once I caught a fish alive’….he had to pick up the fishy card too!:)

    • Amy

      I love that idea Kate and I love that you incorporate MOVEMENT into the activity!

  • Caroline

    Hi Amy! I love this idea particularly for sequencing and improvisation. How do you think I could use this idea within a group activity of about 10 young SEN children?
    Thanks, Caroline.

    • Amy

      Hi Caroline! What does SEN stand for? Did you mean SED?



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