Middle School math teacher Adam Herb has been a drummer all his life. He was in a band called Teachers for Sale that went on hiatus during the pandemic but may come back to life again one day. So when he was introduced to the idea of a drum circle by a library visitor back when he taught fourth grade at Gilman, he thought: I could totally do that.
At first, he held a drum circle as an after-school club in the Lower School, where it was well-received by the boys. When he joined the Middle School in 2017, he tried it as an after-school activity for the older students but soon realized they often had other obligations after school, and it never really took off.
To catch students when they had more availability, Herb thought of the idea of drum circles as an advisory activity. He began offering them in the fall of 2022; his flyer advertises it as a “rhythmic opportunity for Middle School students and Gilman faculty and staff to find creative stimulation” that “encourages insight, mind/body awareness, and the exciting adventure of group improvisation.”
All of the slots for the year have been filled so far, and the boys seem to like it. “Most people who come will say, ‘Hey, that was really fun!’ or ‘That was better than I thought it was going to be,’” Herb said with a smile. One advisory group even sent him thank-you notes after the experience. To expand his audience, Herb has also held a drum circle during professional development days as an outlet for teachers to find relaxation.
Before the 20-minute advisory time slots begin, Herb readies the music room by positioning chairs in a circle with a mix of instruments — most of the drum variety but also others from the percussion family, such as maracas and a wood sounder — in the center. He begins the sessions by modeling a few beats for beginners to use as a guide, and he leads them in a couple of structured exercises, like a domino/waterfall, to get things going. He encourages participants to try out different instruments and to engage with the energy of the group.
“Everyone here gives something back to the Middle School community,” Herb said. “This is something I wanted to try — it’s my passion.”