Sound Formation Percussion



We started our program as we saw the tremendous need for quality music education. We strategically choose hand-percussion as the ideal starting point for a child’s musical journey. Playing on percussion allows the child to begin making music from the very first class. Rhythm is the backbone of music and this approach allows for a focus on developing a great feel in each student AND their music.

Developing a Great Feel

The difference and heart of our program is the emphasis on integrative, experiential, and value based learning. The heart of music is the development of incredible feel, self-expression, and joy. This can quickly be obscured by an emphasis on learning an instrument’s mechanics or analytical theory. Our classes are centered around our value system. We are looking first to impart values of connection, keen listening ability, attention ability, learning ability, sensory processing, communication skills, respect and more. This is how we teach and allows us to more rapidly impart strong musical instrument and ensemble playing skills with our students.

Class Curriculum Sound Formation Method™ Percussion

Curtis-Madigan Music LessonWe have fused fundamental mathematics with musical rhythm in our curriculum. Rhythm is the sound of fundamental mathematics. In order to understand and master rhythm, the mathematics need to be assimilated as well. This reinforces and strengthens the math learned in the classroom.

Every facet of rhythm: subdivision, syncopation, counting, etc. has a mathematical counterpart. These mathematical counterparts include: ratios, algebra, division, subtraction, cardinality, and other operations. We also use a geometric visualization called The Rhythm Compass™. This system along with standard notation and math makes for a complete understanding of rhythm. This comprehensive approach is unlike any other methodology being taught today and leads to rhythmic mastery.

The Rhythm Compass™

Rhythm Compass poster

The Rhythm Compass™ was created by Sound Formation founder, Curtis Madigan, and is an amazing way of understanding the true nature of rhythm. It explains rhythm in a unique manner that shows the mathematical relationships of rhythms. This makes learning rhythm far simpler and yet works to a level of mastery. The Rhythm Compass™ is taught simultaneously with standard music notation in our class.

The Rhythm Compass™ allows for a far deeper understanding of rhythm and the development of greater musical feel than otherwise possible.

Exceptional Staff

We train our staff in channeling our curriculum through the means of playfulness, games, compassion, relating to each child individually, and empowerment of every student. Our staff have Degrees, Master’s Degrees, and Ph.Ds. in music. We go out of our way to source teachers that are passionate educators with immense experience and an ability to work with kids of all ages and learning styles. Many of our teachers come from top music colleges like Berklee College of Music and The University of Miami’s Frost School of Music.


Curtis-Madigan Music LessonThe results of our program have been extraordinary. In our program, the students are composing original compositions and are able to perform together in an ensemble format with songs that have form, solos, and great timing/feel. The students come away transformed, empowered, and confident in their musical abilities.

Our class has received extremely positive feedback from administrators, staff, teachers, principals, parents, PTA’s, and students at numerous public, private, Montessori, and Gifted schools alike.

“She absolutely loved the class!  It’s her favorite part of her week!  I’m impressed with how much she learned.”-Julie GillRhythm & Percussion class parent

“My son Ari LOVES the class. He LOVED Rob and came home and drummed all night :)”
– Amy Druck, Rhythm & Percussion class parent

“Lucy has been loving the class and talks about it a lot. Thanks for making it so fun and educational!”
– Caroline Hagadorn, Rhythm & Percussion class parent


Curtis-Madigan Music LessonThe Rhythm & Percussion Class with Sound Math™ uses professional quality hand-engraved instruments like darbukas, djembes, cajons, bongos, bongo-cajans, claves, and shakers for an incredible experience to remember. These instruments have been specially selected for their incredible tone, functionality, and sounds that harmonize in an ensemble (group) format. We choose well respected brands that are also affordable when the students ask for an instrument themselves.

The Symbiosis of Math and Music, by Curtis Madigan

Math and music have a wonderful, complimentary nature. I’ve always loved math and I’ve always loved music. When combined the results can be extraordinary. Musical rhythm is inherently mathematical due to its fractal and cyclical nature. As we explore playing rhythms together it is essential to grasp: algebraic thinking, counting and cardinality, and operations. This is the focus of the Common Core math initiative in grades K-3.

Curtis-Madigan Music LessonWhen understanding math musically, learning comprehension is dramatically enhanced as evidenced by a San Francisco study (1). The Common Core math initiative encourages the use of claps and sounds to help understand basic operations. Learning rhythms has also been shown to be therapeutic and beneficial for students with ADD and other learning challenges, according to this Stanford study (2).

The Rhythm & Percussion after-school class naturally incorporates ratios, counting and cardinality, and operations as inseparable aspects of understanding and performing musical rhythms. Math in this way acts as a wonderful symbiosis to music.


Getting in rhythm helps children grasp fractions, study finds (SAN FRANCISCO, March 22, 2012)


Feeling the beat: Symposium explores the therapeutic effects of rhythmic music (Stanford Report, May 31, 2006)

Audio Clips

Original song, “Be Brave,” by Emmitt, 2nd-grade Rhythm Percussion class student, performed by him and the class

Original song written by Kindergartener Thomas-Rhythm, Percussion class student, performed by him and his teacher

Original song performed by 2nd-grade Rhythm Percussion class student and her teacher

Original song by Xalah, Kindergarten Rhythm Percussion class student, performed by him and his teacher

Original song by Jake, 2nd-grade Rhythm Percussion class student, performed by him on bongos and the class accompanying

Original song by 3rd-grade Rhythm Percussion student Axel and his teacher


“Your class was wonderful and Rowan learned so much. He has a drum set and has been applying what he learned since the class ended.“
– Maggie O’Toole, Rhythm & Percussion class parent

“My son Ari LOVES the class. He LOVED Rob and came home and drummed all night :)”
– Amy Druck, Rhythm & Percussion class parent

“I learned really cool, hard stuff like that there are so many different kinds of beats – rushes, drags, up beats and down beats!”
– Rowan, Rhythm & Percussion class student

“This class was the best and it gets you really interested in drumming.”
– Lola, Rhythm & Percussion class student

“Curtis was the best!”
– Sadie, Rhythm & Percussion class student

“My girls loved Rhythm and Drumming! Not only did they have fun but they learned how to keep a beat in different tempos. Curtis was always patient and happy!”
– Amy DeCamillis, Rhythm & Percussion class parent

“My son Isaac loved Curtis’ Rhythm and Percussion class! He was excited to attend each week and said that Curtis was really patient and fun. Isaac enjoyed the instruction so much that he asked for a rhythm drum for Christmas. We will will be back for more!”
– Lissa Myers, Rhythm & Percussion class parent

“Thank you so much for the entertainment yesterday. The kids and staff had a blast. The gentleman that worked yesterday were AWESOME with our kids. We really enjoyed it.”
– Megan Langerak, General Recreation Coordinator, Town of Erie, Parks & Recreation

“This class has been a really great experience for Thomas.  You are really great with the kids – much appreciated!”
– James Drever, Rhythm & Percussion class parent