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Around the World with Drum and Dance

Cascade Cultural Arts Center

In 2018-19, “Around the World with Drum and Dance!’ introduced Brazilian samba and Japanese taiko to 250 students.  Cascade kindergarten through 6th graders as well as high school band members were engaged in one week school drum and dance residency in samba and another weeklong drum residency in Taiko. Cascade families took part in an evening workshop and  evening community performances.  New Meadows k-6th graders experienced one day samba and taiko school workshops.

The Essential Question that guided our projects’ focus was:

(music): When is a performance judged ready to present?

The instructors and participating teachers elicited oral feedback from students each day about their experience.  At the end of the session, written reflections were completed.

One of the bigger winters in recent history affected the samba residency–two snow days occurred during the residency week resulting in the decision to not have a student performance at the end of the residency. However, the students still worked on an ensemble performance with a focus on how their music/dance would be perceived by an audience and that guided the residency.

Participating students in the taiko residency demonstrated the following taiko related skills by the end of the residency:

  • Strong Body Stances/form (kata)
  • Techniques of hitting the drum
  • Techniques of voice and the spirit (kiai)
  • Use of the drumroll as perseverance
  • Rhythm and beat as counting patterns
  • Learning songs through oral tradition (kuchi shouga)
  • Identification of different types of drums/instruments
  • How to create and play songs
  • Listening and speaking skills
  • Ability to play in unison

Students  learned about the history of taiko in Japan and North America, the different taiko forms and technique; and the development of the taiko ethos of respect to self, ensemble (others) and drum.

At the conclusion of the project, students responded to questions related to the identified Standards:


“It was an educational experience.  It was very informative.  It was cool!”  Harmony, age 14

“I loved it!”  Anne, age 6

“It was so much fun and so cool.  I thought it was awesome and so loud.”  Jackie, age 8

Show Brazil! in Cascade 2019

Here is what the students are saying…


Before programming:

What do you know of Brazil?

“I know of it, but I don’t know much.

What do you think classes with Show Brazil! will be like?

“It might be fun because of the drumming.”

After programming:

What do you know of Brazil?

“I know that Brazilian dancing is different. You get to move in your own way. It’s cool.

What do you think of the Show Brazil! classes?

“It was really cool. I was at home, and I couldn’t stop talking about it to my mom!”

What other students are saying…

“It was cool how they mix drumming and dance from Jamaica and Brazil to make Samba Reggae.”

Dancing with Molly…

“Dancing with Molly is really fun, just like I predicted.”

“I like how they brought something from another culture to teach us in the school.”

“It is fun doing all the movements.”

“It is fun how we dance and move together.”



Students came away from the samba residency proficient  playing 2 samba rhythms and performing 2 samba dances. Students came away from the Taiko workshop proficient in performing two Taiko rhythms. Students gained performance, choreography, improvisation and musical skills.  They understood how movement and rhythm communicate meaning and how changes in those movements/rhythms can change meanings.  They gained an understanding of the cultural origins of samba and taiko.


These rural students have limited exposure to other cultures and the opportunity to learn about other cultures through music and dance is incredible for them.  Many of these students are from low income families and do not have access to extracurricular arts programs- this program gave them an intensive exposure to percussion and dance that they would not normally get in school or through afterschool activities.  These instructors were wonderful cultural ambassadors for both Brazil and Japan, creating a warm atmosphere in which students felt comfortable trying new things and asking questions about the music and dance of other cultures. Our students were so excited to see Eduardo and Molly again, and were also equally enthusiastic about getting to know Toru and Michele from Unit Souzu.