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Drumming their way to teamwork

CHESTERTOWN They pounded, tapped, shook and banged, all at the same time, and it sounded great. North Warren seventh and eighth graders were on stage in the school auditorium, each with a different instrument of percussion, with Joe Sallins leading them during a workshop. Each student had an instrument, provided by Sallins and his partner, Jesse Casinghino. They ranged from tambourines to cowbells, with African djembes, djunn-djunns, tubanos and shekeres, all instruments of percussion. Sallins enthusiastically led the group in responding to his cues, drumming, tapping and shaking their instruments together.

Sallins is a bassist, drummer, composer, teacher, and an extra-ordinary performer. He has several recordings out, the most recent being Ripple Effect, Part 1,11,111. He has performed with the Uhuru Drummers, Matt "Guitar" Murphy of the Blues Brothers, jazz bassist, Vishnu Wood, trombonist, Charles Greenley, Dan Akroyd, and Lenny Baker of Sha Na Na. He also conducts clinics and workshops, and has several years experience doing programs in schools.

This teaches teamwork, Sallins said. They learn to work together, and have the discipline to put it all together.

He was referring to the routine he taught North Warren seventh through 12th graders last Monday. At the beginning of the workshop, the group of students wasnt in complete sync, but under Sallins watchful eye and athletic cues, the group soon began creating dynamic, on-cue sounds.

This is African influenced music, Sallins said. Im an American so I mix it with American and Latin influences. Traditional African rhythm would be too difficult to teach here so I mix them together.

Sallins said that the discipline of teamwork and learning that he combines is put to use in everyday life as well as in school.

Im a musician, but Im a businessman, too, he said.

After the workshops, Sallins led the students in an assembly for fourth through 12th graders, where they could play the music they learned.

North Warren Music Teacher Maria Swartz said that the Sallins workshops and presentation had been offered by BOCES. Several other area schools also had programs with him.

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