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Balboa Elementary music teacher teaching African rhythms with new tubano drums purchased with grant money – The Spokesman

Katie Munro’s music classes at Balboa Elementary in north Spokane have a cadence set by African drums thanks to a $2,000 Making Music Matter grant from the Washington Music Education Association.

Munro has been collecting the drums, called tubanos, since she began teaching at the school three years ago. “We started with one,” she said.

She’s gotten other grants, and the school’s Parent Teacher Group bought five last year. Now she has enough of the bright leaf patterned drums that all her students can play.

On a recent snowy morning, her sixth-grade music students knelt down before rows of drums of different sizes, their hands poised in the air. The different sizes create different tones. The 14-inch drums are bass, the 12-inch drums are altos and the 10-inch drums are sopranos.

On Munro’s signal, their hands began beating in a growing rhythm. “Low, high, low. Low, high low. Do you feel it?” she said.

Each group of students beat their hands on the top of the drums in a different rhythm, melding the sounds into an upbeat, toe-tapping song that filled the room.

Christian Walters plays an alto drum and said it wasn’t too hard to learn to play. “I like them,” he said. “I like how they sound. The feel is just really good.”

Hunter Shay produces deep tones on his bass drum.

“I think it’s fun to play them because I like the noise it makes,” he said. “Once you get the hang of it, it’s really easy.”

Munro said her love for African music comes from an experience she had while earning a master’s degree at Washington State University. The music teacher she was working with held a world music class for her students.

“It was the coolest thing I had ever seen,” she said. “The kids were in it. They were

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