Elementary school band teaches kids valuable lessons

Victory Over Violence

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – With the beat of a drum, Calvin Exson is changing students’ lives at Little Rock School District’s Mabelvale Elementary School. Mr. Exson is the school’s head custodian. He once played the drums in high school and college, so ten years ago he started the drumline at Mabelvale Elementary.

About 30 students have the honor of being on this team, including 4th graders Saniya McGee and Jaylynn Phillips.

“I get to play music and I also like traveling around places that I’ve never been to,” McGee said about being on the drumline. “I like showing people what I have learned and what more I can learn.”

“I like showing people what I can do and showing them that I can play,” Phillips said.

The drumline plays in events across the area. They just recently played at Bryant’s fall fest. Last year they even got to play at halftime of the Memphis Grizzlies and San Antonio Spurs game.

“They love the crowds. The bigger the crowds, the better they are,” Exson said.

This line also teaches students valuable lessons and gives them the incentive to stay on the right path.

“All of my kids, they want to play every day, so they go in the classroom and do what they’re expected,” Exson said.

When he sees the drummers actually fine-tune their craft, he knows it’s all worth it.

“The light that you see in their eyes when they don’t know how to play and then they realize now that I actually got it and they know the sky is the limit, that’s incredible,” Exson said.

The band is made up of first through fourth-grade students. They practice Mondays through Fridays after school.

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