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Hum-Drum, a participatory musical program for children with disabilities - My Take by Rzhude David

In My Take this week, sound designer and music producer, Rudolph (Rzhude) David, talks about Hum-Drum, a program that helps demystify music concepts for children with disabilities.

In Sanskrit hum means 'us all'. Hum-Drum is a simple and inclusive way to learn and play music using a pair of tuned hand-drums and (at least) two participants engaged in an activity of shared learning and mirrored musical exchanges.

Unlike traditional drums, these have low, soothing sounds and textures designed into them using innovative materials that are also easy on the hands.

Hum-Drum started out as a non-scientific, personal effort to engage with a child with Autism and his special needs. The exploration with this one child has since evolved into a well-structured program that has gained traction as a communication facilitator and therapy enabler within special schools that deal with Autism and Developmental disorders.

So anyone with basic faculties in place can use it to access the language of music and the varied benefits of participatory music through interactive, performance-oriented creativity.

How it works

Hum-Drum comes together in a kit which includes a pair of matched drums and a hard copy of the self-explanatory Rudiments of Music - an illustrated step-by-step guide (with an in-built music stand) designed to deconstruct and de-mystify the language of music. Engaging left-right hand-eye coordination, triggering neural sequencing to create muscle memory and thereby, rhythm patterns to build a musical vocabulary.

A set of 10 lessons and exercises backed with practice record sheets monitor the program by using a digital metronome (time keeping device) in place of the elusive time and teacher. Rhythmic patterns with varying tempo (fast/slow) and dynamics (loud/soft) along with vocal sounds help mind and body come together to understand and easily learn standard western music notation.

Some of the known 'side-effects' are:

  • Facilitates communication.
  • Breaks down barriers in a group.
  • Increases individual confidence.
  • Nurtures community.
  • Encourages interaction.
  • Builds teamwork.

My 25 plus years of experience in music performance, production and education experiences have helped me learn and understand music in my own way at my own pace. I have performed with Dr. L. Subramaniam, TAAQ, Lucky Ali, and The Raghu Dixit Project to name a few. I have also worked for the industry leader in Pro-Audio and Music Tech (AVID - USA), MusicLab (Bangalore) and facilitated large corporate Drum Circles.

The Hum-Drum program has helped demystify music concepts for kids with disabilities as well as their care-givers. This has been a journey of learning and discovery for me, and the unexpected benefit it has brought to parents and the children alike has been hugely satisfying for me personally.

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