Group consists of 28 students in third through fifth grades
VANCOUVER — Students in the Hough Youth Escola de Samba group aren’t missing a beat and they’re loving every minute of learning the art of drumming.
The group, consisting of 28 students ranging from third through fifth grade, is directed by Steven Schob, an experienced musician who has worked with students in Youth Escola de Samba for the last five years.
Schob started playing music in fourth grade in a band program at school and it was there that he discovered his passion. His love for music carried him forward throughout his education, earning him a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in percussion performance at the Conservatory of Music and Dance at the University of Missouri, Kansas City.
Schob trained professionally for orchestral music but about 10 years ago, he was introduced to Brazilian music, where he was able to study with teachers from Brazil and Cuba. Through that experience he started leading drum organizations and now he works with the kids at Hough Elementary and leads another percussion group of 75-100 people in Portland.
Schob says he loves his job teaching the language of music.
“Youth Escola provides a lot of opportunities for kids just to be able to work on basic skills as far as focus, executive functioning skills, social skills, and regulatory skills,’’ Schob said. “And within music, this year especially, we are really working on the fundamentals – having a vocabulary for music.”
Schob reiterates that no matter where each child ends up in life, whether it’s working as a doctor, business person, artist, or something else, every industry has its own lingo or language, and to be able to understand and participate in that fully, they need to be able to speak those languages.
Music from Brazil is the backbone for the Hough Youth Escola de Samba group, but Schob also helps the students explore other styles of music as well during their twice weekly, one-hour rehearsal times. Additionally, students are given the option to stay after practice for an extra half hour, where they can explore music even further, learning other instruments such as ukulele, trumpet, guitar, and more. Schob believes that helping the kids succeed in music means helping them develop the idea of “grit” – working hard, setting goals, working through them, and dedicating themselves to learning the instrument.
“That trait of showing up and working as hard as they can, gives them the tools to be successful later in life,” Schob said.
As for the future of Hough Youth Escola de Samba, Schob shares that it continues to grow year after year.
“Things tend to get better with time,’’ Schob said. “It’s cool to explore new ways to get more kids involved.’’
Schob is considering different ways to get some of the younger kids involved with supplementary activities like singing or dancing with the drums. He’d love to see the kids get out and show off their skills, maybe for a Blazer or Timbers game. He also notes that the group enjoys giving back to the community and is available to play for city-wide functions, including ribbon cuttings or other events where businesses or organizations may want to have the kids showcase their musical abilities.
The group has plans to perform in the annual Paddy Hough Parade in addition to the culture parade that meets at the Fort. Schob is also looking to bring in more Brazilian drummers and musicians in the area to talk to the group about music.
“I would love to more of getting teachers from Brazil and other accomplished musicians in general to come in and work with the kids and inspire them,’’ Schob said. “The kids ask such amazing questions and seem to really bond with the people that do come in.”
Hough Youth Escola de Samba is accepting new group members starting in January once they resume practices and it’s not just limited to Hough students. Students that are in third through fifth grade, including homeschool students, can join the group if they can make rehearsal times.
“The students get put themselves out there in front of the community and through that, get feedback and appreciation and have that whole cycle of devoting themselves to something, making something that’s awesome, and being appreciated for it,’’ Schob said. “And that’s a great experience to have heading into life, right?”