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Milton Randall Workshops

Milton Randall's Afro-Brazilian Drum Experience

Milton Randall.jpgMilton Randall began playing drums for socials and weddings at 13 years old. He received a B. Mus. Ed. from the University of Texas at El Paso (1985) and a n M. Ed. (Music) from the University of North Texas in 1995.

Between degrees, Milton performed with the Winnipeg Symphony and numerous jazz and pop music venues and taught in St. Boniface School District in Winnipeg, Manitoba. In 1995, Milton studied with master drummer Godwin Agbeli in his home village of Kopeyia in Ghana on a scholarship from the University of North Texas.

He completed his Ph.D. coursework at The University of British Columbia but put his graduate studies on hold in order to perform and give hand with drumming workshops in schools and public venues. From 2001 to 2014, Milton taught workshops in over 900 schools in British Columbia, Alberta, USA,  Hong Kong and has introduced over 220,000 students to hand drumming.

The following is an example of a full-day schedule for Milton Randall’s school drumming workshop. Please adjust the times and grade levels accordingly to fit your needs. The oldest students are usually the target group and get quite a bit of the time so they can perform an audience participation assembly at the end of the day. Younger students tend to tire sooner, so they have less time. Without the amount of time alotted to the target group, it would be difficult to have the day’s finale.

Recommended Example Schedule

9:00 – 10:20am Target Group (Grades 6 & 7, or the two oldest grades)
10:20 – 10:40am Recess Break
10:40 – 11:15am Kindergarten + Grades 1 & 2
11:15 – 12:00pm Grades 3, 4 & 5
12:00 – 1:00pm Lunch Break
1:00 – 2:00pm  Target Group (Grades 6 & 7)
2:00 – 2:30pm  Performance by Target Group for the school (Parents are welcome)
2:30 – Close  Dismissal, Pack Up

Educational Goals

Students will achieve the following learning objectives:

 1. Listening skills
 2. Fundamental drum patterns
 3. Rhythmic skills
 4. Engage in multiple intelligences
 5. Use a variety of learning styles
 6. Communication skills
 7. Group and individual self-expression
 8. Social dynamics when participating in a large group
 9. Cooperative learning
 10. Gain a deeper understanding about the relationship between African culture    and North American culture

(Capacity: Up to 150 Students per Session)

This workshop provides a unique study of popular music genres using a combination of African and Brazilian (which has deep roots in West African music) dance, drum, song, and communication. Students explore the influences of African drumming with our modern popular music and culture of the last century. As Milton studied in a remote undeveloped village in Ghana, West Africa, he realized drumming was not only used in music but was a spoken language and a great communication tool. The call and response patterns of many genres such as blues, samba, and country swing music (via blues) can trace its roots to the linguistic nature of African drumming. Learning music as a language is a main component to Milton's presentation. To learn the drum language and grooves each student will have an African style drum. A major emphasis involves offering a positive, comfortable, and enjoyable learning environment.

Format (One day in length with suggested schedule)

9:00 a.m.

The target performance group arrives, usually Grade 5 or higher, though the workshop performance has been done with students as young as Grade 1. A brief explanation and demonstration of how drums can communicate is followed by learning call and response drumming (conversational patterns). Each pattern is associated with a spoken English phrase so students can put meaning to patterns. This is followed by rhythmic patterns from west Africa which lays the foundation for dancers. Students learn three or four Brazilian call and responses (again associated with English phrases) interspersed with an African drumming pattern. Then, students learn three or four African or Brazilian dance patterns associated with each call and response. Students review the short arrangement until scheduled time has ended.

After a break, Milton teaches various age groups of children in 30 minute segments. Grade K-2 students learn a shorter call and response sequence and play drumming games (i.e, simple math answers to questions). If students are able, they play an African dance groove pattern and learn a conga line as a dance. Throughout the day, as the age groups get older, more rhythmic material is presented. After lunch, the performing target group returns to learn more material for the performance assembly.

2:00 p.m.

A school assembly is organized where students run a 30 minute performance for the school. The final dance involves an invigorating conga line where teachers and students participate. Milton gives the drum signal for dancers to return to the drums while students and teachers return to their seats chanting “1,2, go sit down.” If time allows, there is a short question and answer period.

While this is a suggested schedule, there have been a variety of formats including a non-performance oriented program that works well with secondary schools. The program is flexible to suit a particular school's needs. On occasion, Milton has taught high school jazz programs to add drum breaks and dance patterns to stage band arrangements. African or Latin vocal music can be added if time allows.

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