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Book Review: Getting in the Groove: Drumming in the Classroom by Christine Sipes

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Getting in the Groove: Drumming in the Classroom, written by Christine Sipes and released by Albert Music Publishing in October 2011, helps educators and community leaders introduce children to drumming and multicultural awareness in a fun, cost-effective, and interactive way. Many studies suggest young musicians develop self-esteem, increased motivation, academic focus, and time management skills from learning and practicing how to play musical instruments. Unfortunately, opportunities for students to do so decrease every day since funding for the performing arts is on the decline nationwide.

Teaching music in the classroom does not have to be a formal process resulting in professional musicians or a polished concert band performance. Sipes reminds readers that music is for everyone, and Getting in the Groove supports this claim with a step-by-step drumming curriculum to teach students easily grasped rhythms in group settings. The optional CD tracks are short and the narrator is clear, but the drum examples echo slightly and are not in sync with one another, a fair representation for what teachers can expect when beginners play together.

In terms of practicality,finding time to teach an instrument with little resources or spare time presents a daunting task for most educators. Getting in the Groove is best used by those with lesson plan flexibility in a work area away from traditional classrooms potentially distracted by the music. Group drumming sessions during after-school workshops, extracurricular activities, and community events are sure to draw student body enthusiasm. Getting in the Groove also requires teachers to borrow or purchase enough drums for their students. Fortunately, hand percussion instruments are relatively cheap (tip: buy maracas instead of snare drums) and are easy for students to pick up and go.

Students will not learn music theory, proper drumming technique, the difference between a treble or bass clef, or how to sight read complicated music scores from Getting in the Groove. Yet, students will learn how to work as effective team members, sharpen motor coordination skills, and acquire respect for cultural diversity. The teaching methodologies align with National Standards for Music Education and a variety of learning styles. Impressively, this book features a lot of useful, 100% reproducible add-ons: flash cards, fill-in-the-blank quizzes, word searches, maps, lesson guides, a grading rubric, additional listening resources, play-along CD, and blank certificates of completion are included (view sample pages from the book here).

Getting in the Groove: Drumming in the Classroom Book & CD (00-34488) is available for $26.99 at music retail stores, Amazon.com, and alfred.com/classroom.

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