Life is full of rhythms. If you listen carefully, you will hear the subtle thumping all around you - as the washing machine churns, as you type out an e-mail, as rain beats on the roof.
Northal Gaddy has always been attuned to the world. When he was 4, he would take a drum to neighborhood parades in Winston Salem, N.C., and beat along.
"Nothing in life is done without rhythm," Mr. Gaddy said. "I've always wanted to do it. I've always had a desire and connection to rhythms."
He has followed that connection and his dreams. Mr. Gaddy is a free-lance musician who teaches chorus and music appreciation at Paul Knox Middle School in North Augusta.
"Performing is truly my bread and butter ... I'm an entertainer," he said. "My faith is that someone out there needs to hear it; it's going to be a release for somebody there."
Mr. Gaddy takes his love of music into the middle school classroom, where he guides novice singers to performance level. He watches his pupils develop maturity, self-esteem and self-discipline.
"I have an end result, but I have to find a different route for each one," he said. "Everybody has a different road map how to get there."
Mr. Gaddy also offers private music lessons from his home. Sometimes he takes drum pupils to the Youth Development Center, where he practices what he calls healing drums, a kind of rhythm therapy.
"Drumming takes the mind off of pain. It's all healing because it transforms the thought of the mind into a different avenue," he said. "It takes your mind off what you're seeing and opens your mind. The visual aspect of things, a lot of times, distracts us."
At these healing sessions, Mr. Gaddy has each pupil pound out a different pattern of beats. Though each individual's rhythm is different, the result is a compilation.
Mr. Gaddy said the "unifying" activity of creating a song, and the physical activity of beating the drums, transform the pupils.
"I believe it's so powerful ... it expands these kids' minds to another plateau where they can say, 'Hey, I'm accomplishing something."'
Reach Lisa M. Lohr at (706) 823-3332 or firstname.lastname@example.org