Through a collaboration with my school’s physical education teacher, we successfully implemented a Cardio Drumming program for all 4th and 5th grade students. We were awarded a local grant to help purchase the needed equipment. The resulting performances were showcased to the community via a school concert, and our initiative was promoted through social media and our local newspaper.
The objectives of our initiative were fourfold:
To introduce new and exciting curriculum to our students, helping them to produce positive, memorable connections with both the music and physical education subject areas while building relationships with peers.
To help students recognize that music, physical education, and other disciplines rarely exist in a vacuum throughout their lives, and to show how these two specific areas can intertwine.
To give students an opportunity to grow in standards/skills related to both music and physical education subject areas including performance and synchronicity as a group, with underlying aspects of rhythm, beat, and physical exertion.
To promote our respective departments throughout the district and the community while sharing a passion for what we do.
In terms of advocacy, our target audience was our community. Our school district is nestled within a rural community covering two small towns. It is important to me to give students a quality music education whose content rivals that of larger districts, despite our school being much smaller. That being said, I feel it is important that the community is aware of the types of instructional outcomes our students are able to reach. Music, and in particular, this cardio drumming unit, gave us a very visible way to do that.
March 2022 — Applied for grant to help fund equipment needs
April 26, 2022 — Grant received to cover $750 of project expenses
Summer/Fall 2022 — Ordered bucket bases, exercise balls
October 2022 — Began collaboration on Cardio Drumming Curriculum development
November 2022 — 4th and 5th grade students began cardio drumming units
December 2022 — Showcase for public
Overview of Planning and Execution
The physical education teacher for our elementary school and I were the two staff members involved in the planning and execution of our advocacy initiative. We shared the workload and time commitments fairly evenly, but in the case of instructional planning, we each leaned on our strengths. For example, when planning the routines that students would work to perform, as the music teacher, I analyzed and broke up the song lyrics based on the music’s form. The physical education teacher gave input on which movements/exercises to pair with parts of the song.
Tools and Resources
Physical resources that we used included 40 stability balls (exercise balls) and bucket bases and 36 pairs of lummi sticks. We also drew from a variety of online resources (videos of teachers demonstrating routies, educator blog posts, etc.) Cardio drumming is a relatively new thing, and we wanted to draw from the wisdom of other educators who’d already implemented it within their curriculum.
Marketing and Promotion
We reached out to our local newspaper after we were awarded the grant for equipment, and this helped us get the initiative out into the community. Our school concerts are often well-attended, and that was a big help as well. The school concert information was sent out to the local newspaper and also promoted on our school’s Facebook page. A couple factors that play into the favorable attendance include having the concert during the school day (very few kids miss the concert!) and including our elementary art show and book fair after the concert. Almost every student is represented by attendees for the concert and other events. Our gymnasium is usually packed!
Our original budget for this project was $935.84. We needed 40 bucket bases (originally $15) each and 16 more 55cm stability balls (originally $20.99). Our physical education teacher already had some balls on hand, which is why we only needed 16. Unfortunately, during the time between writing the grant and ordering supplies, inflation caused the prices of both the bucket bases and balls to rise. We already had our lummi sticks on hand.
Here were our final totals:
Bucket Bases (purchased through West Music)
40 bases x $16.15 = $646.00
55cm Exercise Stability Balls (purchased through US Games)
16 balls x $38.99 = $623.84
Total expenditures: $1269.84
Grant monies received: $750
Amount that we used music and physical education budget money to cover: $519.84
There is very limited curriculum out there for cardio drumming, and what is out there tends to be pricey. While already spending a significant amount of money on materials, an expensive curriculum wasn’t really a possibility. Instead, we were able to research the routines and processes that other teachers have used in their own programs and pull from their experiences/routines to build our own structure for how we wanted our class time to look.
The cardio drumming routines showcased in the winter concert received an overwhelmingly positive response. It was by far the crowd favorite! We livestream our concerts, and the stream was shared by multiple families afterward with directions to take note of the cardio drumming and at what point of the video it occurred. There were also multiple family/community members who spoke to the physical education teacher and myself expressing their enjoyment of the routines.
We have decided to keep cardio drumming as part of our curriculum and do it with 4th and 5th grade each year. We still have kids bring up how much fun it was, and our 3rd graders are excited to be able to do it next year. We had staff members comment that they would love to do the cardio drumming, so we’ve added it as a staff act in our spring concert as well! Our district put out the challenge for teachers to bring memorable moments to our students, things that will stick with them as a positive experience, and cardio drumming definitely fit the bill!
Advice for others?
Don’t get discouraged by the price of materials! We purchased Drums Alive ball bases through West Music, you could use anything from laundry baskets to regular 5 gallon buckets . We used lummi sticks, but you could use drumsticks or even wood dowels. Look for donations from the community!