Evergreen Afterschool has rhythm

By Gus Bode

Although it may seem like a nightmare to most parents – 35 kids beating drums indoors – their children may improve their math skills and lose weight as they beat out their frustrations.

Children in Evergreen Terrace’s after school program participated in The Hand Drumming Program Thursday through a Gift of Love Charity, Inc., a non-profit organization that provides the program for free.

Their first lesson was in rhythm and listening, but the lesson plan will vary from week to week, Evergreen’s Community Aid Jamie Corr said.


Orlan Mays, executive director of the charity, teaches students hand drumming rhythms and number sequencing using large, wooden hand drums.

“He’s amazing,” Corr said. “His personality is just one that connects with everybody. I was so impressed with his enthusiasm and warmth – so genuine. Even the most hyper child got focused and did it.”

Erica Yording, a sophomore from Jacksonville, Ill. studying speech pathology, said Mays taught students to repeat whatever beat he or other students did. Twelve-year-old Imani Randle said she learned new rhythms and how to make her own beat.

“I had already done this at the Life Center,” Randle said. “They’re different every time. I can make beats with the basketball.”

A brochure for the program said the charity’s goal is to offer free services to disadvantaged families in the community.

“It was incredible,” Corr said. “He’s started a little organization to help kids, and it does. The kids had a ball and they were so focused. I was so proud of all of them and they were so proud of what they were doing.”

Corr said Mays provided about 10 drums for students to practice with. She estimated that she has about 35 small drums and plans to purchase four large drums, similar to those used by Mays.


Each of the large drums will cost approximately $100 and will be paid for using the remainder of a 3-year $2,400 grant received from the Adolescent Health Center of Carbondale.

Corr used part of the grant to pay for training to be certified by the American Council of Exercise so she could teach the Fit Rhythms program on Tuesdays. Fit Rhythms is an aerobic drumming program that combines drumming and dance, something Corr said she hopes will help her pupils in the same way that leading the hand drumming class did.

“They were all stars and the beaming faces – they were in charge for a little while and that’s so important in a child’s development and in their self-esteem,” Corr said.

Daily Egyptian writer Brandy Oxford can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 259 or at [email protected].