Drumming Sessions at Maple Leaf Kingsley International School

In Maple Leaf Kingsley International School, students from all levels from nursery to secondary, teachers and administrative staff went through the 24-Seasons drumming sessions to understand different type of rhythms and learning the art of drumming. The objective of this activity is to introduce culture and world history. It’s not only traditional Chinese drumming but also Malaysian cultures as we in ML KIS believe in assimilating the rich cultural diversity of Malaysia into each session.

Traditional drumming is associated with pop, circumstance and jubilation. It is a hallmark of prosperity and celebration, uniting people through collective rhythms and tempos. Drumming helps to ease and calm the drummer as the person concentrates on the rhythm and instruction being belted out.

Drumming is a group activity, often involving ten or more percussionists in the group. While similar to Western notions of “drum circles”, these groups often follow a very prescribed and choreographed routine, providing one aspect of the rhythm to the overall beat. In this sense, Chinese drumming is a collective action, kind of like a marching band’s percussion section. Aside from adding complexity to the rhythm, other players are often used to add volume and presence to the performance, which means that they’re simply acting as amplifiers.

The earliest known drums in China date back nearly four thousand years ago, around the time of the Shang Dynasty (c.1600 – c.1100 BCE). Most drums were crude constructions of animal shells, skins and clay/wooden composites. The most famous of these drum artifacts are comprised of tortoise shells, alligator and snake skins, which were popularized by ethnic groups and merchants along the Silk Road.

Historically, Chinese drums have been used in celebration and in conflict. As a result; Chinese drums are often the colour red which has long time been associated with power and luck, and accordingly, red drums have been used as a symbol of strength for rulers and armies. Such instruments are also used in ceremonies such as weddings and other festivities. A booming set of drums is often the backdrop to an important celebration. For example, there were thousands of drummers all marching to the beat of a single drum at the 2008 Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony.

Research indicates that drums are about communication and making music, two essential characteristics of community life. Drumming is a therapeutic tool and it accelerates physical healing, boosts the immune system and assists in releasing emotional trauma. Drumming has a positive effect on anxiety, grief, fatigue, depression and behavioural issues. Our students and staff enjoyed this activity and seemed pleased with the final outcome of learning the art of drumming.