Troy Kryzalka — the “Number Drummer” - teaches students about mathematics using percussion instruments. The children at Eastover-Central Elementary were making quite a racket in the school auditorium Friday morning — banging on trash cans, drumming on the floor, clanging cowbells.
For once, though, the teachers were perfectly fine with it.
The occasion was a visit by Troy Kryzalka — the “Number Drummer” — as part of the Artists in Schools program sponsored by the Arts Council of Fayetteville-Cumberland County.
“It brings artists from across the state into Cumberland County schools,” said Kennon Jackson, grants manager for the Arts Council. “It can be a workshop, a residency or a performance like we had today. It gives the students an opportunity to be exposed to arts and culture where they otherwise might not have had that opportunity.”
Using a variety of percussion instruments, Kryzalka sought to integrate the disciplines of music and math and have a little fun in the process.The students in the pre-kindergarten through fifth grade school were handed instruments as they filed into the auditorium - drumsticks, cowbells and plastic trash cans that served as drums.
Kryzalka told the children how an eye injury at age 4 affected the way he learns.
“When I was little, I was a slow reader. Musical notes were tough,” he said. “But numbers, that did it.”
Now, Kryzalka said, “every time you see me drumming, my head sees nothing but numbers.”
Kryzalka then led the students through an hour-long exercise that combined counting with putting down beats with the drumsticks, cowbells and trash pails.
The children were instructed to make sounds that corresponded with numbers and colors that were flashed on a screen above the stage, with the difficulty increasing as the program went on. Kryzalka encouraged the students and led them on a drum kit that was set up on stage.
“The rhythm is all about the relationship between all these processes or a relationship between all these numbers,” Kryzalka said.
Soon the auditorium was filled with the sound of pounding drums and cymbals. Even the teachers got to join in.
Along the way, Kryzalka dropped little math lessons.
“What’s eight plus eight plus eight plus eight?” he asked the students. “What’s eight times four?”
“32!” the children responded in unison.
After the program, Kryzalka congratulated the students: “You played algebra,” he told them.
Student Jasmyn Gilliam, 10, said she plays the cello but enjoyed playing the drums for a change.
“It was different, definitely,” she said.
Connor Matthews, 7, said he enjoyed the program.
“When I heard it was about numbers and music, I got so excited,” Connor said. “It allowed me to do two things I love.”
Staff writer Rodger Mullen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 910-486-3561.