As part of the Summer Symposium Community Outreach Program, Music for All faculty members Vincent Thomas and Matt Savage taught groups from two of our community partner organizations, Cornerstone Center for the Arts and Ross Community Center, on Wednesday. Cornerstone hosted both groups in their Majestic and Legacy rooms on the third floor of their building.  

When our team first walked into the two rooms, we were speechless. The building is a historic six-story building, originally used as a Masonic Temple, and became Cornerstone Center for the Arts in 2005. The history in each room is seen by the worn seats, the beautiful carpet and artwork, and the incredible structure of the rooms. To say that we were and are astounded by the architecture and kindness of the people at Cornerstone for graciously providing the space is an understatement. 

A combined total off forty-four students with age ranging from 6-12 years old gave our instructors an opportunity to impact some of the youngest audience members of the Muncie community. Each partner’s students were split in half and each group simultaneously ran and were switched every thirty-five minutes.  

Vincent Thomas ran the dance classes throughout the day and gave the kids “Agreements” to follow along during their time with him. They were asked to be full of their value and free of judgement, to be curious about their learning, to acknowledge others in the space and recognize that they are valid, and to have fun. The room was energetic and filled with enthusiasm with students interacting and engaging together. 

Vincent was asked how his experience was teaching these students, and he said, “it was a thrill to be with the younger generation from the Muncie community. The children were so curious about moving their bodies and it was thoughtful, learning, play time for them. One six-year-old asked, ‘what time are we dancing tomorrow?’ It is wonderful that Music for All is reaching into the greater Muncie community to connect and extend the positively life-changing experience.” 

When students were not with Vincent, they were participating in a drum circle with Matt Savage. Matt started each session with learning the student’s names with a call and response exercise. They quickly moved into explanations of rhythm and the opportunity to showcase their talents on the drums. Drum circles provide a space that everyone contributes and is an important piece of the final product.  

When asked about his experience at Cornerstone, Matt said, “what a joy it has been to share the magic of drumming with the people of Muncie! Thank you for being so welcoming and energetic at our drumming events. And also a huge thank you to Music for All for giving us this opportunity to share community through music! 

After each session, I watched as students were beaming with excitement after having such a great experience with our faculty members. Dance and Drums is something that has grown from a simple drum circle in 2018 and has grown to impact multiple partners and their students. Seeing the impact that we had on them and the way that they interacted with me was inspiring, and I look forward to growing this program for next year with more opportunities for students and community members to participate in active music-making.