Beat The Odds: Drum Circles For Kids

Written by: Lauren Vukicevich and Steve Hilstein

It’s no secret that music has extraordinary benefits for a person’s well-being. Whether someone listens to music for motivation, plays an instrument to release stress, or sings to communicate with another person, the music becomes a channel for healing and positive growth! When kids are exposed these benefits at an early age, they learn to use music as an effective tool in their daily lives.


Recent session at Music Motive

REMO‘s Beat The Odds program is a facilitated drum circle where children come together as part of a community. The intention is to teach life skills and provide an opportunity for expression, rather than teaching perfect technique. This program allows elementary students to develop social skills and concentration, discover connections, and manage feelings. It helps to build an open and integrated community of children by encouraging cooperation and reflection

BeatTheOdds-Type-1Beat The Odds is a new opportunity for kids to experience group drumming with peers and a trained facilitator at Music Motive. This is an evidence-based program that is supported by experts in fields such as Music Therapy and Psychology. UCLArts and Healing has researched the effects of this specific program and found that it has tremendous benefits for schools and youth communities. The drums are especially therapeutic for kids because they are inclusive – they allow for participation regardless of previous musical experience, as well as options for participation that are comfortable to each child.


This Summer, Music Motive has included Beat the Odds in their Summer Music Camp program, and in the Fall it will be offered to various elementary schools throughout San Luis Obispo County. Some of Music Motive’s teachers have trained in North Hollywood to learn about this program and become facilitators. The training brought together a group of people from all different backgrounds and with a common goal to help children through music. Music Motive is excited to bring Beat the Odds to our community and share it with local youth!

For more information, look at UCLArts and Healing’s website, or the Beat the Odds section on our website here.

Music Enrichment Classes

Written by: Lauren Vukicevich

We at Music Motive believe that music enrichment is a critical part of a child’s well-rounded education. Due to budget cuts, music has been eliminated from many schools locally as well as across America. Music Motive offers after school music enrichment classes at several elementary schools throughout San Luis Obispo County. Last week, I sat down with Music Motive director, Steve Hilstein and Music Enrichment Class Manager, Micah Grogg to discuss the classes which will be offered this Fall. Micah is also a Bucketeers teacher and Bucket Busters leader, so he and Steve were able to give me quite a few details about the program.


Bucketeers at Pacheco Elementary School, San Luis Obispo.

What exactly do the music enrichment classes entail?

Micah: We have 3 different classes – Guitar, Drums, and Sing (a choral class). Each class session is eight weeks, with Fall classes beginning mid-September. The students learn how to hold there instruments, how to read a music, and learn at least one song which they perform at the end of each class. Piano and Ukulele classes are available to schools by request.

Why do you think it is important to have music instruction in the schools?

Steve: Because of the lack of music being taught in our school system, I am passionate about bringing music to kids and giving them the same opportunities that earlier generations have had. It has been proven that learning to play an instrument helps make you smarter and increases success in other academic areas. Learning to play music involves using more areas of the brain than almost any other activity, and there are many benefits to that kind of stimulation.


Guitar Class at Monarch Grove Elementary School in Los Osos.

How long has Music Motive been offering the enrichment programs?

Steve: We started with the Bucketeers drumming class about 5 years ago, which was inspired by the Bucket Busters. People would come up to us at shows and ask, “How can my kid be a part of this?” So we started an entry-level drumming class on buckets. Two years later we started doing Guitar classes, as well as Sing, which is choral group (previously called Glee Club).

Do students in the Bucketeers class ever become Bucket Busters?

Micah: Yes, we’ve had two kids who started as Bucketeers and then went into private lessons and are now Bucket Busters. If students want to continue, we encourage them to take private lessons because that’s where they can really excel.

How old do the kids need to be to participate?

Steve: 1st grade and up. Guitar, Ukulele, and even piano start at 3rd grade and up.

at MM wTracy

Teacher, Tracy Morgan with some very happy Bucketeers.

Micah: In the Sing classes, even small kids can fully participate because they are mostly learning songs and vocal techniques. They put together vocal arrangements, accompanied by the teacher or sing along to tracks.

How are kids selected for these classes?

Steve: Anyone can sign up. Like anything else, some kids take to it better or faster than others. These classes are designed to expose kids to music and give them the opportunity to try it and see if they take to it.  Sometimes a kid will start with bucket drumming and realize that guitar is what they really want to learn. These classes are meant to introduce kids to music at an early age when they are more equipped to learn. It’s similar to when a child learns a foreign language, which music essentially is; it is much easier when they are younger.

How do you select your teachers for the classes?

Prodogy Award

The Prodigy Award – earned by a Monarch Grove Student.

Steve: Most of them are direct referrals or already teach in our private lessons program. They are certified and have background checks. I personally really enjoy teaching one or two classes every year. I just love it! Every time I leave, I’m energized. I love teaching kids music. It’s fun and very gratifying.

How do you come up with the curriculum for the classes?

Steve: We write our own curriculum based on our teachers’ previous music education. A few of us collaborate and decide on some very basic material. It is simply a way to expose kids to music, and often times after taking a class, the student will continue on to take private lessons.

The Bucketeers class, in particular, is designed so that the students can take it repeatedly. Some have even take it four or five times! We have different levels within the curriculum, whereas the first time through they may only get up to the first or second level, but by the fourth or fifth time, they may get up to a much higher level. Often, kids who have already taken the class are given the opportunity assist the teacher to help teach. When one student teaches another, it really benefits both of them.

You can find out more or sign up for classes here: