Don’t let the pandemic limit your passion for teaching music!

Move over, recorders. Students have another option when it comes to basic music education, and it’s more sanitary than many other options! Steel drums are a low-touch, high-performance instrument for kids to learn music during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

Panyard’s Jumbie Jam is a steel drum designed for all ages and skill levels. These instruments offer a great introduction to music, and allow students to learn as much beginning music theory as they would on any other instrument.

1. Steel Drums Are Easy to Sanitize
One of the biggest challenges on educators’ minds right now is how he or she is going to keep things sanitized when kids go back to school in the fall. How can you keep yourself and your students healthy?

While we don’t have all the answers, we do have a solution for music education during a pandemic. Jumbie Jams are portable, lightweight, and, most importantly right now, very easy to sanitize. In fact, there is hardly any contact between the person using the drum and the drum itself, since it is played with mallets.

A simple disinfectant wipe can be used on both the drums and the mallets. If you prefer, kids can even wear gloves while they play, and then discard them after use.

2. Jumbie Jams Are Portable, Lightweight and Easy to Understand
A steel drum is exactly what it sounds like, plus it’s melodic. Historically, the instruments, which originated in Trinidad, were made from oil barrels. Over the decades, the process to create a steel drum has been refined. The end result, when it comes to Panyard’s specially engineered Jumbies at least, is a lightweight option that comes with its own carrying case for portability and ease of use.

Students are not overwhelmed or intimidated by the Jumbie Jam, ensuring an effective and immediate learning experience. Jumbies are also very easy to set up, for both educators, parents and students. During a pandemic, anything that’s easy to use is a great choice because it’s one less thing that takes up your time.

3. Steel Drums Offer a Well-Rounded Musical Education for Beginners
This boils down to simplicity. Educating during a pandemic is very stressful. In fact, we can’t even begin to imagine the stress our teachers must be under these days. If you’re looking for one instrument that “does it all,” the Jumbie may be the instrument for you and your students.

Like a recorder or a piano, the first step to learning music is reading the notes and learning the corresponding positions on the instrument. Compared to many other instruments, a steel drum is a simple instrument to play for a beginner. A violin, for example, requires a lot of technique just to create a decent sound. Learning to play piano requires a lot of dexterity, and playing guitar creates calluses for beginners. Wind instruments require breath control and create sanitary issues due to the pandemic. While it’s great to learn all kinds of instruments, a steel drum doesn’t have those challenges. It’s just the student, the mallets, and the drum.
Playing the Jumbie Jam ignites all areas of a child’s development, helping body and mind work together. It stimulates concentration, motor skills, rhythm and creativity.

4. Steel Drums Offer More Than Just Music
Lessons on the Jumbie Jam can be combined with lessons on the history and culture of Trinidad and Tobago, where the steel drum originated. It’s an opportunity to connect kids with another culture. But beyond that, it’s also a way to build camaraderie among your students. In fact, the Jumbie Jam is named after a character from Trinidadian folklore. A Jumbie is a mischievous and playful spirit that grabs hold of you and compels you to do a certain thing. What you’re urged to do depends on the Jumbie that bites you!

Combining history lessons with music, again, boils down to simplicity. You can cover multiple educational angles with one instrument.

Learning to play the Jumbie extends beyond learning history. It has positive social implications as well. Unlike a band with multiple instruments, kids that learn the Jumbie Jam or other steel drums in a group setting are all on the same level. They’re all beginners, and all of their instruments sound the same. A squeaky clarinet or out of tune flute, for example, won’t be a distraction. That creates a sense of community and camaraderie among students.

While it’s a unifying instrument, it’s also unique. Not everyone plays a steel drum! Learning to play one is a chance for a child to experience something that sets him or her apart from the crowd. It’s a spirited instrument that’s popular with students.

While it’s a unifying instrument, it’s also unique. Not everyone plays a steel drum! Learning to play one is a chance for a child to experience something that sets him or her apart from the crowd. It’s a spirited instrument that’s popular with students.

5. An Easy Transition to Virtual Learning
Should schools return to a situation where students attend virtually, a Jumbie Jam is an instrument that survives that transition well. If parents want to add more musical education outside of the school’s curriculum, the Jumbie takes up very little square footage in the house and is simple to learn and teach.

The Jumbie Jam was selected for a “Best Tools for Schools” award by the National Association of Music Merchants. The panel of diverse music educators identified the Jumbie Jam as a musical instrument that provides innovative solutions and opportunities for music education. Also noted were Panyard’s teacher guides and song books assisting the teacher to incorporate the Jumbie Jam into their existing music classroom, or teaching it as a new group instrument.

Whether a music educator teaches music virtually, or if it’s up to the parents to supplement music education, a Jumbie is an affordable, portable, easy-to-clean choice.

Playing an instrument, whether it’s a Jumbie or something else, is good for the soul. It’s a way to express feelings, and a way to “zone out” from the problems in the world. The COVID-19 pandemic is a time of heightened anxiety for everyone, and that includes kids. Here at Panyard, we believe that continuing to provide music education is vital to the mental health of your students. And if a Jumbie helps you capture the island spirit — one that includes joy, peace and serenity — that’s even better.

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