Final Project



So, now we have a blog and a place to put stuff. That was part one. In the drumming of the English class we had to want to drum, I had to want to drum, and I had to purchase the drums. That was the first part of the story. It took me a couple years to get up the courage to buy the drums and then even more courage to tell the school principal I thought it was pedagogically sound to allow students to drum for 10 minutes during English class. But I did.

So here you are to listen to some drumming while you read. In ds106 the SoundCloud adventure came later, but for this story, you will learn it now, and hear it now. I wanted to have a clip of one of my English classes drumming because we did record some stuff, but it is lost in that dang digital nightmare called “C” drive. So click play and read on, reader.

“A good drummer listens as much as he plays.”-Indian Proverb

I have always thought that what Jimi Hendrix and David Gilmour such beautiful guitar players is that they knew when not to play. They knew when to stop. And Listen. As a teacher, and the son of a family therapist, I know how important it is to just stop talking and let the students/clients do the talking. And as a drummer, I know how important it is to let the others have their time. Like jazz, we all should be heard. I remember really getting this deeply and in a sound thrashing from Marilyn Manson in the interview he did in Bowling for Columbine. He was asked what he would tell the students and his response was, “I wouldn’t say a single word to them I would listen to what they have to say.” That struck me in so many ways. Like the many people and ideas I have expressed in these first few moments of this project, it is all woven together, drumming and sound, English verbs and nouns, and heroes and songs. Why do we separate them so?

How does this fit into learning and teaching and venues? Well, as we went crazy, drumming our brains out the first minutes of English class, we were heard all around campus. What we did was share, for better or worse, our stuff, our sounds. So often in education we are boxed. In Blackboard, in classrooms, on campuses and in buildings. Boxed. We want out. We deserve to be shared because that is all we really do: share.

Sharing sounds, words, clothing, ideas. Is this what ds106 would look like if it were not all online? To me, for a while, this is what ds106 felt like, and certainly what my English class felt like at times. You need only watch a few seconds of this to get the idea, then stop the video and move on.

And a good teacher listens as much as he shares. I have learned, I think, that this is true from many. From books and from friends, from teachers and tv. I have witnessed the watchers in the group, and I have watched them grow. I have been one of them. I have played too. Contributing and being a good role model is part of leading, part of teaching. I have learned this from Jim Groom in this class. Jim and many others role modeled “engagement” (sorry to use that word, but it is true) and that made me want to engage. Jim did the projects with us. That is role modeling at its finest! We need that in classrooms. What ever happened to teachers sharing in the experiences with students?

Remember: Students would often come in and ask if they could use the drums at lunch and go outside and drum. Also, sometimes students from other classes would come in and see if they could play with us. That looks like ds106 and allowing others to come play! And getting students to take learning and excitement to other places.

So I am going to try to tell the story of my introducing drumming into the English classes I taught via the tools and story of my ds106 experience. So far all this stuff below is just placeholders so I can remember all the brilliant ideas I have. And, well, it sort of tells a story too!

So we will begin with an audio clip of me drumming and then some narration of why I thought I should be drumming in the English classes. Then we will wonder about ds106 and the ideas of open courses (the whole school heard us drumming!) and some of the content we have looked at thus far. I’ll do animated gif like one below. (I can’t wait to drum to the tempo of the image below and add some additional drums and narration)

Then I will move onto the minimalist poster or some other visual assignment. Not sure about that one yet.

Then I will address the audio portion and here we can have drumming sounds. I think part of this page will be the directions for navigating it. I’ll have to keep the viewer in control as they move down the page as it will have various audio clips, video clips, and text and images that… well maybe not?

Today I posted some words about my musical experiences in the high school classroom. I had a vision of this story about that journey and my interpretation of it. I think that I will try to gather some thoughts from others about the experience and see where that goes. I have many of the students who made music those years as Facebook friends and I think I will get feedback from them to infuse into the story?

I always liked the “cutup poetry” of the Beats and when faced with telling a story through a poem of song titles and a playlist, I am reminded of the stories that were made by by each student in the class. Each there with their won title, their own song, and then once we all joined together, we mashed up our individual songs and names into a new name and song. Something that had never existed before. And that was important.


Put wall post on Facebook asking former drumming students to respond to two questions. One was simple: Was it a learning experience, yes or no. The other asked them to write a couple sentences about their experiences.

After an hour I was happy. A few responses and one was:

I think drumming in class is a good thing! Getting into the sound the drum makes by each drummer can tell you a lot about how or what the drummer is going through. Also drumming is a way to clear your mind from whatever you were going through prior to class so express and then prepare  for class and what lay in store for you.

Got a few more responses to Facebook query and found yearbook images last night. Going to add a couple now. The first is of me and a student playing. We played one drum together sometimes. There is power in that! The second image is of a student hiding behind my guitar. You cannot hid in a drum circle. Or English class. At least not mine.


I am sure that some how, some where these lines will fit into the story. I looked around a bit the other day for videos explaining some of the benefits of drumming but could not find one I was pleased with. I am going to interview a local drummer/musicologist and see what he can share. The video below shows a bit of where is is at these days. And this is what


(ds106 is like that)

The quotes below are from the Facebook wall post I put out a week ago asking with link to Google Doc and two simple questions. Here are results thus far.

I enjoyed drumming very much! Take time to look past the drum and feel free! It helps!

Drumming in the class was an amazing activity. It made us engage in the classroom on a whole other level. I might add your English class was truly one of the only classes I walked away with more knowledge and had learned something. I hope your still having your classes participate in this!

I still to this day talk about the drumming activity we did together. It taught us team work and helped us to warm up to each other and the teacher. It also got our brains working for the rest of the class. Great experience! Even inspired me to buy my own drum (and i still play it).

opened our mind to music and relieved stress built alot of pride when kids learned they could make awesome music

Ya it was great, I would look forward to it even though I rarely asked for an instrument. Seeing my other classmate’s creativity and expression and how everyone just flowed (sometimes haha) was truly cool. While I was in your class you gave me a book called Hells Angels, I read it again a while ago thanks for that.

“A good warm up to clear the mind..kind like wiping a new slate for learning.
Drumming helped me get things off my mind before i had to learn and it was a good thing…”

This experience that I had actually began my music career. I learned alot about tempo and beat and shortly after leaving OCRS, I picked up guitar seriously and began playing everyday.

So how might we market the concept or movie or idea to strangers. Well, you make a poster and plaster them on the walls.

Inspired by Howard Rheingold’s short tour of his office. I learned, or felt like I learned much about him in that video. Also as I look around me now, and as I recall the classroom we drummed in, we had beautiful surroundings. I think we have created beautiful surroundings in sound, images, webspaces in ds106. I like that.

So now what? I think I am going to leave you pondering space and time and schooling and drumming in English class and ds106. As the great Kurt Vonnegut once said, “Goodbye.”

7 Responses to “Final Project”

  1. Lisa M Lane April 21, 2011 at 4:47 pm #

    Nope, can’t control it. I did indeed multitask, skimming and swerving around the page to see what there was. Because you said you were trying to control it, my mind automatically tried to reformat it, wondering whether I could just throw it all on a Glogster instead and introduce even less control!

    That said, this is a cool exploration. I used to be a drummer too.

    • Todd Conaway April 21, 2011 at 7:52 pm #

      Right, no control. Well, it is so linear and so, ah, contained, that I wanna break free! What environment can I use? After viewing the thing again I decided I need to take a break, so I am adding an “aesthetic” pause in video to the thing.

      Just stranger by the minute.

      • Lisa M Lane April 22, 2011 at 4:22 am #

        Can’t wait to see what you’ll come up with… 🙂

        • Todd Conaway April 22, 2011 at 5:27 pm #

          Me too! I think.

  2. Noise Professor April 22, 2011 at 7:14 pm #

    Good on you! I love the “Becoming…” burlap thing on your wall. Process, not product!

    • Todd Conaway April 22, 2011 at 7:29 pm #

      My mom made that.


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