“Why do you like to play music?” instructor Manny Moreno asked the students who sat cross-legged on a mat in front of him.

The group consisted of eight children as old as 9 along with their parents. The youngest child, 1-year-old Zoe Jimenez, sat in her father’s lap as he held her drum for her.

“I like to play music, because then I get to create my own music,” replied 5-year-old Julian Contreras.

The group gathered at the Children’s Museum of Stockton on Saturday for World Drumming Class, offered by Art Expressions of San Joaquin, where Manny Moreno, his wife, Tanya Moreno, and other members of Loki Rhythm organized two sessions to teach children the fundamentals, patterns and techniques of drumming using the dumbek, or goblet drum.

Moreno gave a dumbek, commonly used in traditional Egyptian music, to each student. He taught them how to play the sounds of “dum,” “ta” and “ka,” and various patterns in those sound combinations.

From left, Matthew Peterson, 9, and Londyn Johnson, 4, watch the instructor to replicate his hand movements on the Dumbek during World Drumming Class at the Children’s Museum in Stockton, Calif., on July 22, 2023. (Harika Maddala/Bay City News/Catchlight Local)

“They were very patient and very involved with the kids. I really liked that,” Julian’s mother, Maggie Reyes, said.

Reyes said she appreciated that the instructor was mindful of which hand was dominant for each child. “They took into consideration to ask the children whether they were left-handed or right-handed, which is big for me because he is a lefty,” she said of her son.

Reyes’s family was visiting Stockton from Covina and was looking for something to keep her son occupied.  Another such family was that of 4-year-old Londyn Johnson, from Ontario, California.

“I actually enjoyed myself,” said Johnson’s mother, Renae Upton, who took part in the session alongside her daughter. Playing the drum “was pretty tricky, but we really enjoyed it.”

Loki Rhythm is a group composed of Manny and Tanya Moreno and other Central Valley musicians, playing compositions influenced by Hawaiian, West African, Caribbean, Zydeco, Latin jazz, Asian and Persian cultures. The group has held other classes at the children’s museum.

“We believe in Stockton, and we believe that the quality of instruction here should be top level,” Manny Moreno said. “Kids take ownership and start to learn how to create music in this class.”

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