Beat Goes On for 450 Students

Second-graders found the beat playing together on tube-like instruments called boomwhackers, tubano drums, glockenspiels and xylophones to the song, “Welcome back! I’m glad you’re here. Come and listen with your ear!”

Thanks to a grant from the Michigan Youth Arts and the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, the Godfrey-Lee Early Childhood Center received $1,457 to purchase new instruments for the young fives through second grade music classes.

A second-grader laughs out loud while learning a rhythmThe new instruments provide the chance for group activities like making sound effects and creating songs to go along with children’s literature, said music teacher Tami Nelson, who is planning many music-making opportunities for her 450 students, including public performances.

“It’s really nice and it’s awesome we get new drums and new stuff to play,” said second-grader Arianna Wheeler. “We were needing some new stuff. It was nice of them to give us new instruments.”

A student does a little dance while playing the glockenspielThe majority Hispanic district has a large number of students who speak English as a second language. Through music, they can express themselves non-verbally, Nelson said.

Also, many students aren’t exposed to instruments outside of school. Many families in the community do not have access to instruments in their homes or the funds to purchase instruments for their own personal use, Nelson added.


Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs

Students are using the instruments in class and for performing

Students take turns on the xylophones

Music teacher Tami Nelson’s class claps to the beat

For many students, the only opportunity to play music is at school

Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers and On-the-Town Magazine. Besides covering the many exciting facets of K-12 public education for School News Network, she writes freelance for the travel industry. Read Erin's full bio


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