Developing a World Drumming Ensemble with help from IPSEF


This year, IPSEF granted a historic number of matching grant to teachers’ DonorsChoose.org projects in IPS classrooms. One of these teachers is Carter Bell, the general music teacher at Rousseau McClellan School 91. Through a matching grant from DonorsChoose.org, she has been able to purchase the supplies to start a World Drumming Ensemble at her school.

p1059713_001_mdlg“In music class, my students love anything that gets them moving– whether it is dancing or playing instruments. For many of these children, this music class is their only exposure to the arts, and they value the opportunity to participate and learn,” she says.

After a strings program got cut from the school, Bell saw the need for her students to get involved with another type of music program. She knew the materials for drumming were more affordable and that it was something she could teach, so she pursued the creation of a World Drumming Ensemble at her school.

“I initially expected 25 students to participate in the ensemble, and I now have over 40 in the group. Our ensemble was so large that we needed more drums– a fantastic ’problem‘ to have!” Bell says.

Bell runs the drumming ensemble in addition to the general music classes she teaches at School 91. She uses her prep time once a week, and teachers give up a portion of their classroom time, so students can participate in the ensemble.

“I do it because I think it’s important,” she says.

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Bell, who has taught for 10 years, also says she has rarely seen students as excited as they have been about the drumming ensemble. Almost every student in third grade chose to participate, and when they had their first concert in December, there were not enough seats for everyone who wanted to come see them perform. Besides additional exposure to music, Bell teaches her students life skills about how to work with others in an ensemble. Without the support from DonorsChoose.org and the IPS Education Foundation, the drumming ensemble at School 91 would not have been a reality.

“I’m really thankful,” Bell says. “I’ve had 50 projects on DonorsChoose.org, and most of them have been partially funded by IPSEF. It’s such a great thing. I’ve gotten to do so many cool things with my kids. It’s just transformed the way I teach. I’m grateful that I get to become a better teacher through partnership with these organizations.”