African drums get a permanent homePublished 8:35am Friday, November 19, 2010
The African drums that the Fergus Falls School District purchased finally have a room to call home.
And this week, not only was a mural painted in that room at Roosevelt Education Center, but Area Learning Center students were treated to a class taught by African drumming master Francis Kofi himself.
The drums were purchased gradually through a grant, and now, the district has about 30 traditional handmade drums from Ghana, where Kofi is from.
The drums were used in classes last year, but this year, the Diversity Room became their permanent home, and classes were expanded to more grade levels, ALC music teacher Geralyn Lyseng said. They’re also used in an after-school African drumming club that meets weekly.
Lyseng learned how to use the drums from Kofi, who, through funding from the same grant that allowed the district to purchase the drums, will visit and teach students in the district several times throughout the school year for a week or two at a time.
Thursday was one of those visits. Kofi sat at the head of a circle of ALC students in grades nine through 12, beating the drums with the students as he taught them various rhythms.
Lyseng said the drumming is a good way for the students to relieve stress and exude positive energy while having fun.
“I like how it relaxes the kids and no matter what their background, their musical experience or their age, they’re all working together and helping each other out to create a positive community,” she said.
The students agreed.
“It’s a really good experience,” senior Cody Jorgens said. “It makes everybody come alive.”
“It gets everybody together in the same room and the vibe in the room is so high,” senior Samir Beganovic said.
And the room’s colorful new mural mimics that positive vibe.
The African Drum and Dance Mural depicts a line of dancing and drumming figures garbed in traditional colorful robes. It was designed by local artist Christine Brinkman, who used an image from a famous work to outline the figures on the wall using a projector.
For the last few weeks, she’s been working with students from art teacher Peder Butenhoff’s ALC art class. Every day the students have painted alongside Brinkman, and Wednesday morning, they neared the beginning of the end as they painted embellishments like the lines and dots decorating the robes. Butenhoff estimated they’d be finished in about a week.
“We picked the painting based on the African drumming, but I gave the kids free reign for what they wanted to paint,” Brinkman said. “It’s really theirs. This is about getting more people involved and using local talent, and I like that it’s completely unique.”