Drumming up excitement

REED CITY –The sound of drum sticks beating, the kick of a bass drum and the chime of cymbals filled the gymnasium on Monday at G.T. Norman Elementary.

Robert Gottfried, better known as “Rob the Drummer,” entertained students with his skill on the drums while delivering an educational message about bullying, drugs and the importance of practice.

“If you want to be really good at the drums or any other musical instrument or sport, you have to practice,” Gottfried said. “We have to practice, and we can all get better together.”

Gottfried also encouraged students to make eye contact when talking to others, a practice he said would help them get more out of conversations.

“You are behind your eyes, and if I don’t get to see through your eyes, I don’t get to know you at all,” he said. “When you look away, you are going to hear what I say, but half of what someone says is the way that they say it. You have to look at them when they are saying something.”

Once all eyes and ears were on him, Rob the Drummer led the elementary students in several repetitive games, designed to show them that the more they practiced, the better they would become.

He discussed relevant issues children face in today’s world, including drugs, internet safety and cyber-bullying.

“It used to be that if someone was going to bully you, they would look you in the eye before they destroyed you,” Gottfried said. “But now people are hiding behind computers, and you get an email from one of your friends or maybe 10 of your friends that says, ‘You are the worst person I have ever met. Nobody wants to talk to you.’ And that really hurts. Be very careful about putting out anything negative, anything that would hurt someone else.

“The next time you are going to give someone a hard time, think about what it’s like to be on the receiving end.”

Through interacting with the students and his “devilish friend,” who appeared on a projection screen throughout the performance, Gottfried reached students in a unique way.

“You didn’t need anything to get here, to feel good,” Gottfried said as students laughed and cheered, clapping to the beat of the drums. “You didn’t need anything to make you go faster or slower. You didn’t need any illegal drugs, cigarettes, coffee – nothing. Whatever you get involved in, drums, any musical instrument or any sport, that is when you are going to change the way you feel.

“You are free to feel good. But some people give up that freedom to a drug. They let the drug tell them what to do rather than them telling the drug what to do.”

As the presentation came to a close, Gottfried returned to his drums and played cheerful beats as students and staff of G.T. Norman Elementary expressed themselves, jumping, clapping and dancing.

Rob the Drummer will also present at Morley Stanwood, Pine River and Marion schools this week during a statewide tour sponsored by the Michigan State Police.