Nicholas McDowell, Drum Instructor and Site Director at Hanrahan Elementary, teaches after school students specific notes to play.James A.R. Nelson, a 12-year-old 5th grader at Hanrahan Elementary, has aspired to play the snare ever since he first heard the sounds of drums in his church choir.

“When I was little I liked the sound of the church drums,” he said. “I have wanted to play ever since.”

Since 2008, the ASAP after school program at Hanrahan Elementary School (operated by Provident, Inc.) has given the opportunity for their students to be involved in an afterschool drumline program. The drummers range from nine to 13 years old, all from the Jennings School District. Together since this past January, the drummers “really look forward to drumline practice and have really worked hard this year,” said Nicholas McDowell, Drum Instructor and Site Director at Hanrahan Elementary.

The program has worked with over 150 students from Hanrahan Elementary and Gary Gore Elementary “teaching them respect, leadership, camaraderie, and the basics of musicianship,” according to McDowell. Currently, there are 12 students, among them eight new faces this year .

The drumline has played in events across the state in front of crowds of more than 5,000 people, including the Downtown NATO Convention, Alpha Phi Alpha Midwest Marchdown Stepshow, International Festival of St. Louis, Pagedale's Red Ribbon Parade, Provident’s 150 Year Gala, and the Anti-Tobacco Convention in Jefferson City (where they played for Governor Jay Nixon), just to name a few. On top of these honors, the drumline has also been featured on KPLR-TV, the St. Louis American and the Ladue News.

McDowell believes the drumline program truly benefits the children of the Jennings community, such as keeping the students proactive and engaged in new activities with their peers outside of the classroom.

“It would benefit other kids in schools all over St. Louis,” said Teona Davis, an 11-year-old 6th grader at Hanrahan and second year cymbals player. “I like making music.”