Inside the Story: Utah students are drumming their way to better focus, better grades

Inside the Story: Utah students are drumming their way to better focus, better grades (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) Give a kid some drum sticks, a giant exercise ball, and a fired up instructor and you've got the ultimate upbeat and high-energy gym class.

But as fun as this all looks, there is actually some science behind it.

In fact, there is more than just science.

At Terra Linda Elementary School in West Jordan, this is six classes built into one.

It's called, "Drumtastic."

And the creator and brains behind it all is Carrie Ekins, who you would never guess is turning 60 this year.

"Our goal really is the brain," Ekins said of Drumtastic.

It all started many years ago when Ekins injured her leg and had to have a hip replacement.

That landed Ekins in a wheelchair--a devastating blow for this athletic and very active woman.

"All I had was my arms," she said. "I said to myself, 'I'm not going to let this take me down and I'm going to find a way to keep myself fit.'"

That's when she started drumming and felt new life.

"'Why was I feeling like this?'' Ekins asked herself. "I was so euphoric and excited and sweaty. I was taking my heart rate and found out that it was fitness. But there was no research out on drumming fitness."

So Ekins started to do her own research.

She's now traveled the world with her program and teamed up with several universities to study the effects of drumming.

The research is showing it really does work, especially for kids who have attention deficit disorders.

"They come back and perform academically better, they are more focused in the classroom and can perform better in any task, any subject," said Principal Karen Gorringe.

But at Terra Linda Elementary it's more than just a gym event, it's about taking it into the classroom.

Every teacher is trained to use Drumtastic skills for a quick "brain break" during class.

"We've learned that in students' learning, they get to a point where they've maxed out their brains basically and need a two-to-three-minute brain break," Gorringe explained.

The Drumtastic program started in 2003. Several schools along the Wasatch Front have used it.

Terra Linda Elementary is taking it in as a pilot program--it will be the first school to train all teachers and staff in this method.

Visit the Drums Alive website for more about the Drumtastic course.