During a typical year at ACT, young students join teaching artist Josh Dunigan for drumming lessons through ACT's Early Childhood Art Exploration program. In response to COVID-19 challenges this year, this program was adapted to be mindful of health, comfort, and safety precautions. This model included in-person classes being switched to either Zoom classes or pre-recorded sessions. This has given students the opportunity to acquire the same skills, while staying safe and healthy.
Classes aim to develop fine and gross motor abilities, communication, following directions, and teamwork. This is typically accomplished through visual arts, creative movement, yoga, theater, and music.
"In the spring, a lot of teachers, including myself, faced a steep learning curve with online platforms, video, and sound equipment. It has been an opportunity to learn new skills and new ways to engage,"Dunigan said.
ACT intern Bayley Saville, has never seen students so engaged. In her involvement with the youth classes, she joined the Zoom drumming lessons to assist with any technical difficulties and follow along with students. "The program impacts the students by giving them a way to express themselves and have some fun at the same time," Saville shared.
Before the Early Childhood Art Exploration classes began, Dunigan sent an intro video to all the teachers to pass along to their students participating in the class to spark excitement. In the intro video, Dunigan asked the students find an item to use as a shaker, something to use as two drum sticks, and an item to use as a drum, such as a bucket or bowl, since they most likely don't have drums at home.
Each class begins with a greeting to all the students and Dunigan instructs the students to follow along throughout the lesson, while playing to a variety of different drum beats. Dunigan loves that the Zoom classes allow him to see how students are playing the instruments, while providing both individual and group instruction.