An ABC of drumming: children’s narratives about beat, rhythm and groove in a primary classroom

This newly published study will interest several of you…

Mackinlay_2014_An ABC of drumming_Children’s narratives about beat, rhythm and groove in a primary classroom

In this paper, Elizabeth Mackinlay (School of Education, University of Queensland) uses a bricolage of arts-based research and writing practices to explore narratives by Grade 4 children about their experiences in a drumming circle called ‘Bam
Bam’ as represented in a text they created with me called An ABC of drumming. The
term ‘narrative’ is used here in a contemporary sense to simultaneously invoke a socially
and musically situated and constructed story (Chase, 2005 p. 657); as an ‘account to self
and others’ (Barrett & Stauffer, 2009, p. 7) about drumming in a particular place, with a
particular group of children during a particular set of events; and, to explore narratives
of drumming as the ‘shared relational work’ of myself as a drummer, teacher, researcher
and ‘story-teller/story-liver’ (Connelly & Clandinin, 1990, p. 12) alongside the children.
In synchronicity with the ABC of drumming produced by the children, the paper itself
is framed and written creatively around letters of the alphabet and variously includes
poetry and data or research poetry; ethnographic ‘thick descriptions’ (Geertz, 1973) of our
drumming circle; and, visual and textual expressions by the children. By doing so, her
aim is to move collectively from ‘narrative as a “story-presented” to narrative as a “form
of meaning-making”, indeed, a form of “mind-making”’ (Barrett & Stauffer, 2009, p. 10)
about the children’s experience of drumming and the drumming circle itself. The central
question underpinning this paper then is, what makes children’s experience in a drumming
circle meaningful, and how do they make sense of such meaning?