Music, like math, is a universal language. But it does come second to some.
Stonybrook School band teacher Alan Tedesco is hoping to make it easier for all students to grasp through a new club: the Stonybrook Drum Circle.
"I started the Stonybrook Drum Circle last year as an outlet for students who demonstrated an interest in rhythm and percussion, but have a hard time understanding," he said. "Drum circle was designed to move at a pace students can comprehend and feel a great deal of reward from the experience."
Stonybrook Drum Circle participants meet once a week for the entire year. During the allotted time, about 45 minutes, the students take turns making up their own rhythms, performing the sounds for others and teaching them the music they have created.
They also have an opportunity to experience a variety of percussion instruments, ranging from small drums to timpanis and even bass drums double the size of the students themselves. The small number of students in the group allows for specialized attention and instruction and an avenue for students to express creativity. Even though the group only has six participants currently, Tedesco said the students are being prepared for larger musical opportunities later on.
"Stonybrook Drum Circle focuses on motor skills and the ability to feel rhythm and motion in a larger group," he said. "The feeling of being part of something, along with gaining certain musical abilities, is a fantastic way to involve these students."
The students are also included in other band events at the school, such as attending performances at school concerts, participating in presentations by guest artists and taking a trip with the band students to Lincoln Center.
Stonybrook Principal Mark Mongon said the program has been "an extremely worthwhile" part of the school's music program since its inception.
"Music is such a powerful art form, and the drum circle allows more students to take part in it than ever before," he said.
"We want as many students as possible to be able to develop a love of music, and to be creative with it; the drum circle allows us to do this."