This week I had the pleasure of drumming with a group of young women in Toronto whose focus and power were amazing! They look very comfortable and at home with the drums, and definitely enjoyed themselves, but you might be surprised to learn they are actually an awesome volleyball team! This is the Leaside Lightning 16U Red team, coached by my brother Bob Armstrong and Adam Billedeau. We arranged a session of team-building drumming, to work on learning new skills outside of the sports realm. Drumming requires many of the same skills as volleyball: focus, non-verbal communication, active listening and awareness, multiple parts contributing to a whole and layers of information all happening at the same time.
Bob and I had discussed the connections between my work and his and have wanted to put together a session like this for a while. In his words, “Adam and I are always looking for new and exciting opportunities to allow the team to become stronger and more cohesive. We search for team bonding events which incorporate unique experiences. When the opportunity to work with Kathy came up, we thought it was a perfect fit. Where on court rhythm is crucial to the team’s success, the rhythm of drumming together seemed like a fantastic way to bring the team even closer. As a high performance team striving to be one of the top teams in the country, any opportunity to improve is important. After the session was completed, we could see that the girls had enjoyed a great experience all around. A big Thanks to Kathy for her leadership and instruction!! ”
I have worked with many groups of people from all walks of life over my career but I have to say I was surprised at the sheer force and strength these young women played the drums and accompanying percussion instruments with. In fact, we started the session with a simple cross-body hand clapping game from Ghana and their claps were so forceful…I am glad I do not have to face a hit from them on the court! We did some hand drumming from Ghana; a piece called Kpanlogo, which also included layers of syncopated bell and shaker patterns. Settling into a relaxed groove was tricky at first but got better as they added more parts and opened up their ears to the other parts around them. They also jumped into singing with great energy and enthusiasm…perhaps one of the Kpanlogo songs will find its way into their cheers.
Here they are in their natural habitat, winning medals and being awesome teens with their terrific coaches. Find out more about them and all the volleyball programs at Leaside here!