Holistic Drums Alive approach coming to Mountain Grove School District

MOUNTAIN GROVE, Mo. – A pair of educators at Mountain Grove Elementary will combine physical education and music classes to implement Drums Alive curriculum, allowing students to discover a new fitness experience with brain-affected benefits of rhythm and music.

Drums Alive is commonly employed by schools, nursing homes, and senior centers. The Drums Alive program promotes a well-rounded balance of physical, emotional and social health, as explained on its website.

After enduring a significant hip injury, founder Carrie Ekins chose to find enjoyment in her extended rehabilitation journey. She started playing drums on boxes and began experiencing the advantages.

In her quest for answers, Ekins found enhanced Alpha waves were responsible for the euphoric sensations she felt during her new routine. The Learning Center for Human Development explains drumming can create a natural high by altering brain waves from Beta to Alpha, resulting in a calm and relaxed mental state.

Research suggests the physical transmission of rhythmic energy can synchronize the left and right hemispheres of the brain. When the logical and intuitive sides of the brain work together, the inner guidance system becomes more powerful.

Billie Miller, a music teacher at Mountain Grove Elementary, attended the Missouri Music Educators Association conference and was able to witness a Drums Alive presentation conducted by one of its trainers. The idea captivated Miller, who then consulted Amber Marsh, a physical education teacher at Mountain Grove Elementary.

The duo requested a grant to implement the program and were awarded $4,396 by the Community Foundation of the Ozarks.

“What I like about it is that it is a fun way of teaching something that I already teach,” Miller told The Heartlander. “It’s very active. I knew kids would love this. My kids love playing instruments, so I just knew this would be a hit at our school.” 


Phys ed teacher Marsh added, “We do a couple of times a year where we combine PE and music together and do different activities. This is what we would like to do together. It’s something different for the kids.”

Drums Alive does not make use of typical percussion instruments. Instead, it involves placing an exercise or yoga ball on top of a bucket or container. Using their drum sticks, participants will combine beats with exercise techniques.

“I can take things the kids already know, and we’re doing this in a different way. It is a lot of fun. Not only are you playing drums, but you are moving around the drum, moving left to right and switching drums with the person next to you to create choreography to go with a fun song,” Miller said.

Moreover, the program offers opportunities to integrate math skills, history and traditional education. Miller and Marsh have aspirations to transform the program into a weekly after-school activity.

The program will be operational at Mountain Grove Schools when the new school year starts in August.

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