There is a class of year 3 and 4 children that I teach to djembe to who must take the gold medal for being the most chatty class anywhere!
The big problem is getting them to watch and listen for signals when a djembe pattern is changing, and to STOP all together in a tidy and accurate fashion.
However, playing games where the children are “out” if they make a mistake seems to have a near-miraculous effect on their powers of concentration.
I took a simple rhythm of BASS – – tone-tone tone; fitting the words “Pat – – the don-key” which we played repeatedly, until I called “Four more” “Three more” “Two more” “Last one” “STOP” – in other words calling the last four repeats. On the word “STOP” everyone had to play a final BASS. Anyone who continued after the “stop” was out, and had to push their drum to the centre of the circle.
Most of the children were, surprisingly, honest enough to admit it when they should be out. There were a few who just cheated, sadly.
However, it only took a few repetitions of the game, with those who were “out” being reinstated every so often “for another chance” before the whole atmosphere of casual chattiness had become one of intense competition and focus.
This new improved level of concentration made the rest of the lesson much easier and much more productive.