Ralph Hicks was watching a Texans game while trying to communicate with his nephew, Luke, who is on the Autism Spectrum.
Eye contact and verbal communication weren’t working with him so Hicks drummed on his leg. Luke repeated the sound and all of the sudden they were communicating.
This started the whole idea of “Let Them Drum” as a special way to communicate and reach people like his nephew. Hicks formed a small drum club at Mitchell Intermediate School in Conroe ISD where he also teaches band.
This club is where Hicks also saw the impact of his club. Students would just meet and play their drums together for 20 minutes.
“None of us had any idea what we were doing. At the end of the first year, I received several thank you emails from parents,” Hicks said.
The club eventually led to “Let Them Drum”.
Hicks is changing and improving the lives of kids through percussive experiences with his powerful non-profit organization. “Let Them Drum” was started by Hicks to help provide recreational and therapeutic drumming experiences for those with disabilities.
The program is governed by seven Board of Directors full of experienced members such as corporate professionals, a Professor of Music Therapy, a Professor of Percussion, a practicing lawyer, parents and caregivers of the special needs community.
“Let Them Drum” uses two programs primarily, Group Drumming sessions and the LTD All Stars program. Group Drumming allows the participants to have an entertaining and social atmosphere for any and all with or without disabilities.
The sessions are a way for the kids and volunteers to play together and just have a fun time.
The sessions aren’t just for kids, which are the majority of the participants right now. Anyone from any walk of life with whatever abilities or disabilities can come and participate in the sessions.
Volunteers are welcomed and can earn community service credit through the program. These drum sessions are free of charge although donations are welcomed by the organization.
The All Stars is the chance for participants to have the chance to perform their skills. They perform more than 20 times a year with a variety of drumming instruments. It requires a membership fee, but you are able to perform up to twice a year at as many performances as you want.
“Let Them Drum’s” primary partner is Sam Houston State University. The partnership allows the SHSU music therapy department to supervise and look into the curriculum to ensure therapeutic content.
Board Certified Music Therapists are consulted when possible and can the program is approved and shaped by the SHSU Music Therapy program.
You can’t truly know the impact of this powerful program without experiencing it first hand. Hicks has had many experiences that show him what he is doing is helping and improving the lives of those who participate.
Hicks has had many powerful moments working in his program. His most rewarding was when he had a participant with severe mobility impairment come into his program. She was required to be strapped into a wheelchair so she wouldn’t fall out, but that didn’t stop her involvement in the program. Hicks was worried about how much she would be able to participate, but he decided to hand her a small egg shaker and it only took her seconds to begin shaking it.
“Her smile is something I will never forget…for a few minutes, she was just one of the gang,” Hicks said.
The program is always looking for volunteers to join and if you know anyone with any disability, please recommend them to join the program. Chapters are located in The Woodlands, Magnolia, Conroe, Klein and Austin. There are also out-of-state chapters planned to open.
For more information go to the website www.letthemdrum.org.