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James Hall from Chicago Symphony Orchestra

James Hall from Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Bongos, Congas, and Djembes – Oh My!

Young Men Enjoy Percussion Lessons on Presidents’ Day

If you happened to be walking by the Boys Campus Learning Center on President’s Day, you may have wondered at the loud banging sounds reverberating through the walls and vents.  Not to worry, our building wasn’t coming down—our boys were just getting a hands-on lesson in playing the drums!

This wonderful opportunity was made possible by James Hall, coordinator of Civic Engagement Programs at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Hall reached out to us last year about a possible partnership and visited Mercy Home in December to plan a potential workshop.

Using the Presidents’ Day school holiday as a chance for a trial session, Mr. Hall and a guest percussion instructor, Michael, stopped by our boys campus to lead a workshop.

Here’s Joshua having a great time learning to play the conga drum!

A small group of our young men was split into two classes. In each session, our boys entered a room littered with bongos, congas (both instruments that originate in the Caribbean), and even a djembe—a popular drum of West African origin.

After they had selected their instruments of choice, our kids were given a basic overview on the techniques and principles of hand drum performance and then led in a simple rhythm sequence. Once our boys were able to get a hang of playing, the instructors encouraged our boys to develop their own beat. After each class had practiced a few times, they then performed their arrangements for each other! One class even dubbed their new hit song “French Toast” in honor of the breakfast they had enjoyed that morning.

Our boys greatly enjoyed their lessons, and their lively performances resulted in many curious coworkers and youth stopping by to enjoy the music. The workshop was so successful, in fact, that we hope to have them back soon for a multi-day program!

A huge thank you to James Hall and Michael for bringing some much-needed energy and fun in the middle of winter, and congrats to our boys for learning to play new instruments!

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