Youths Drum to a Different Beat Since Taking Program

Written by Patricia Villers, Published by New Haven Register, February 13, 2003
Reprinted with Permission


ANSONIA ó The Howard F. Tinney Community Center drummers havenít missed a beat since they learned how to make music on African Djembe drums last fall.

Seventeen city youths learned the skills from Gerard Hector and Neal Joseph, members of Ajali, an Afro-Caribbean group from Trinidad. The musicians, with Marceline Morris, have been artists-in-residence at Ethel Walker School in Simsbury since September 2000.

The 12-week "Drums Not Drugs" program was held after school at Tinney Community Center, 6 Olson Drive. It was funded through the Valley Substance Abuse Action Council, with a $10,000 grant from the Katharine Matthies Foundation.

The program promotes cultural diversity, boosts self-esteem and offers a positive outlet for youths after school, council officials said.

Participation also helps students learn teamwork and leadership skills as they drum in unison. The children assembled their own drums at the start of the course.

From 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, drummers will perform at Gateway Community College in New Haven, said Lorrie Driscoll, prevention specialist at Valley Substance Abuse Action Council.

"They were invited to perform after their presentation at the Inn at Villa Bianca in Seymour," Driscoll said, referring to a Martin Luther King Jr. diversity celebration Jan. 16.

Gateway President Dorsey Kendrick was keynote speaker at the dinner and enjoyed the drummersí performance, Driscoll said.

The Ansonia group will bring extra drums for Gateway students who would like to join the performance.

"This will be a chance for the kids to interact with college students," Driscoll said.

At 1:30 p.m. Feb. 19, drummers will converge on Tele-Media Co. studios in Seymour to videotape a public service announcement.

"Itís a 30-second spot about substance abuse prevention," Driscoll said. "We are borrowing the script from the Office of National Drug Control Policy."

Drummers will play in the background, while Karen Dreyfuss of Simsbury, founder of Drums Not Drugs, does the voice-over, Driscoll said.

The drummers also will perform Feb. 26 during a multicultural event at Ansonia Middle School, said sixth-grade teacher Tameka Mack. Times have not yet been scheduled.

Last month, three drummers posed for a public service announcement poster. Eighth-grader Jackie Parks, sixth-grader Kenyon Beene and fifth-grader Sierra Roseboro are featured in the photograph with their instructor, Gerard Hector.

The photograph may be viewed at, or in an exhibit co-sponsored by the Connecticut Association of Non-Profits and First Experience Communications at First Experience Studio, 3011 Main St., Glastonbury, through March 21.



Drums Not Drugs Program Articles

Feb. 13, 2003 Youths drum to a different beat since taking program New Haven Register
Jan. 17, 2003 ĎDrums Not Drugsí rekindles Kingís dream
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Jan. 6, 2003 Grade school drummers chosen for poster kids
New Haven Register

Nov 05, 2002 Valley group gets 2 grants to curb substance abuse
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Oct 21, 2002 Students march to beat of different drum
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Oct 14, 2002 Drumming away boredom
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