We have been planning to bring drumming to our Playhouse for some time but were not having any luck finding drums and a leader. One day we spotted a video on Facebook of Raymond, our Playhouse participant, drumming in a Washington, D.C. street concert and saw his amazing talent! Now we knew exactly who could get the drums rolling!
According to his mom, Raymond got his first set of drums four years ago from a family friend. He is currently on his 3rd set. He will play for as many as three hours a day! He just loves it. He loves doing private mini “concerts” for family and friends in his man cave, he has his own YouTube Channel (“More Than A Label” Raymond T) and he was lucky enough to be asked to play at the Race4Respect in Washington, D.C. this summer. That’s where GiGi’s Annapolis spotted his mad skills!
We asked Michelle & Stacy, Raymond’s Mom and Dad, if they would like to organize a drum circle at GiGi’s this summer. They all embraced it! Michelle found a local organization that was willing to loan us 13 beautiful hand drums. The Tetschner family led the summer Pop Up Drumming Circle sessions. “Raymond was super excited to share his skills at GiGi’s and thought it was super fun that different friends came to different sessions which made each session unique and different.” His Mom shared, “I am not sure that he would count the drum circle as volunteering because it was so much fun! Our family is big on volunteering so we were excited to do this program together!”
When asked if Raymond enjoyed being a Leader his mom wrote, “Yes, his favorite part was being a leader! He loved being able to encourage everyone to work with the beat/music he was trying to create. We made sure to allow each person a turn to “drop their own beat.” Some added in clapping or using the side of the drum, but one of the coolest moments was when one of our GiGi’s participants started singing too. We have some truly talented kids!
Michelle said, “Music is a great equalizer. There’s no right or wrong way to dance or enjoy the music and our kiddos LOVE the music! We were glad to participate in such a fun activity.” Raymond piped in, “I loved it. My favorite part of drumming was the wind, then rain, then thunder sounding one. Cool to be with Ronald and friends.”
Raymond is 16 years old and active in GiGi’s TeenTastic program. He recently began volunteering in the LMNOP Saturday class and has been generously donating baby board books to the group. GiGi’s Playhouse has been invited to participate at Raymond’s high school next month for the Down Syndrome Awareness Angel Walk. The Office of Campus Ministry at Bishop McNamara High School added GiGi’s Playhouse to it’s list of Pre-Approved Service Opportunities for students, a list that many students and families use as a starting-point for determining where they will volunteer during the school year. The school’s mission is: To educate hearts and minds in a dynamic, inclusive Catholic school community rooted in the Holy Cross tradition.” Now that’s a drum beat we can march to!
Editor’s Note: Michelle will be presenting on the topic of Inclusion at the next DSC Parent Night at GiGi’s Playhouse Annapolis on October 16th, 6:30pm. RSVP. Childcare will be provided.