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NWPE Grant: Drumming Across the World
posted by: Melissa | March 24, 2022, 03:15 PM   

Today's Guest Post is by Ellen Lewing, a winner of NWPE's grant program.


The students at Whitworth Elementary are extremely grateful to NWPE for choosing Ellen Lewing to be a recipient of a fall 2021 Classroom Grant. The project was called “Drumming across the World.” With the help of Northwest Professional Educators, the school purchased fourteen African djembe drums, maracas, and a “World Music Drumming Ensemble & Song” curriculum guide.

Throughout this curriculum, students are introduced to the music and culture of people from all over the world. As they learn each song, students become engaged in complete hands-on learning through singing, playing, and dancing. What I love about the “Drumming across the World” project is that it teaches students to value diversity in addition to learning new musical concepts.

Because music was a brand new course at our school, our music program had no instruments with zero budget to acquire any. The NWPE grant truly helped us to meet this need by allowing us to build inventory, purchase instruments, and establish a tried and true music curriculum that can be used for years to come. While we have only had the equipment for a few short weeks, we’ve already had the opportunity to explore the countries of Japan, Russia, Ireland, Ghana, Mexico, Colombia, and Jamaica. Our students have found World Music Drumming fascinating and love learning about how other cultures live. “Drumming across the World” has really opened their eyes to a new way of thinking about the world.

If you are a music teacher (or a social studies teacher) who is interested in teaching this curriculum to your students, I highly recommend checking out They have workshops available, and a one-week training course also available for PDUs or graduate credit. These workshops can be found online, or in-person all across the country. Here are the results you can anticipate from implementing World Music Drumming into your classroom: students actually looking forward to music (or social studies) class, 100% engagement, hands-on lessons with real authentic instruments, less behavior disruptions, and best of all, the communal building of a positive classroom community.

Once again, we thank Northwest Professional Educators for choosing us and for affording us this wonderful learning opportunity. We look forward to implementing “Drumming across the World” at Whitworth Elementary for many years to come.


Mrs. Ellen Lewing is a National Board Certified music teacher with fourteen years of full-time teaching experience in Oregon, Mississippi, and Georgia. Her specialties include K-8 General Music, 5-12 Band, 7-8 Musical Theatre, and Spanish I. During her teaching career, she has written and received twenty-nine classroom grants, totaling approximately $28,000, which have resulted in a complete class set of guitars, keyboards, ukuleles, and drums for her students.

Ellen and her family reside in Salem, Oregon. She currently serves as the Music Specialist at Whitworth Elementary School in Dallas, Oregon.

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