Kids beat the heat with beats

DUBAI - Even as school kids sweat it out in different summer camps, 18 children are having fun drumming their way through the summer.

By Preeti Kannan (Our staff reporter)

Published: Sun 27 Jul 2008, 1:52 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 6:18 PM

For the past few weeks, children, aged between 4 and 11, arrive every morning at the Jumeirah English Speaking School (JESS) for their unconventional timeout - Dubai Drums Summer Camp - to create their own rhythm and have fun.

In its second year, the two-week camp is not just about beating together on the differently shaped and sized African Djembe-based drums, children also use other percussion instruments like shakers, bells and wood blocks, adding to the lively beats. Seated in a circle, the children alter the pace and tempo to play to their own tunes with Julie-Anne Odell, founder and managing director of Dubai Drums.

'I love playing the drums as it is fun,' said six-year-old Raphael Landais, who studies at The International School of Choueifat.

Daniel Wickens, who has attended the drum camps earlier and even owns a few drums, observed that regular drumming de-stresses and invigorates her.

Parents say the four-hour daily session of drums, games and art, leaves the children energised. 'My son keeps humming the music even at home and asks us to sing along. He even plays the beats on the table. It is refreshing and definitely better than him sitting at home watching cartoons through the holidays,' says Marlon Fernando, father of six-year-old Nehemiah.

Muna bin Braik, the first Emirati to have enrolled her two children, Abdul Aziz and Shamma, in the drums camp earlier this week, believes that drumming could have a long term effect in contributing positively to her children's development.

She said, 'My son loves music and I thought this was a good initiation into music for him. They also play games and the camp is very interactive. If it is added in the regular school curriculum, it would have its benefits and give pupils a break from academics.'

Julie-Anne Odell, the brain behind Dubai Drums, says that the activity empowers children and boosts their self-confidence. 'Rhythm transcends boundaries and gives them the confidence that they don't have to learn music academically,' she says.

After working with two schools, Odell now hopes to expand drumming to more schools and urge them to include them as part of the curriculum. 'It improves their concentration and enables them to express their creativity. We have been receiving a lot of positive response from schools and many are asking us to drum with their children. In October, I plan to hold a three-day training programme for school teachers, music teachers in particular, so that they can begin community drumming circles in their schools,' she noted.

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