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Classroom Zen Created by Detroit Enterprise Library Tech Specialist Scott Underwood

The COVID-19 pandemic can be blamed for plenty of things the past two years, but it has also sparked creativity in ways not thought of before.
 
Ask Detroit Enterprise Library Technology Specialist Scott Underwood two years ago if he would have been creating music to accompany mindfulness practices for his new YouTube channel and he would have laughed.
 
Today, he’s accumulating subscribers and plays for dozens of videos of original content on his channel called Classroom Zen.
 
“The kids were always asking for music during class and trying to find the right stuff on YouTube is kind of tough,” Underwood said. “They all like the lo-fi beats, and a lot of those lo-fi channels, the visuals weren’t appropriate.”
 
Underwood decided that creating his own music and visuals was a much safer, albeit time consuming, proposition.
 
“I’m just kind of getting started with it. I’m going to start focusing a lot more on positive self-affirmations, deep breathing, and mindfulness stuff,” he said. “Those videos are doing pretty well by just advertising in different teacher groups on Instagram and Facebook.”
 
Underwood has also been learning to express himself using a tongue drum, an updated version of a log drum of Aztec origin. The sounds vary depending on the mallets used, but the drum emits a calm, muted ringing with different tones depending on where it is struck.
 
“I always kind of thought the meditation stuff was a bunch of garbage, but as I went through the pandemic with these kids, I’ve seen the mental health decline in them,” he said. “I started researching it a lot and learning about the power in changing the way you’re thinking. Mindfulness is about listening to your body and figuring out what your body and mind need to find its center again, which is something I want to help the kids do. A lot of adults are really stressed right now and don’t know where to turn for help, so if I could do something for kids, it’s a good thing.”
 
With the popularity of social media professionals and streamers today, Underwood must remind his students this is not a get-rich-quick scheme. Influencers can earn millions of dollars a year for their content, but that’s only when they have millions of followers and views on their pages.
 
“I want to try to do something the kids can look at on their own time for mental health. I’m not claiming to be a psychologist, I’m just doing some things with mindfulness that are proven to lower stress levels,” he said.
 
A few teachers have tried it out in their classes and sent it to their students. There’s been positive reaction from it thus far, Underwood said. Some of the content just takes a little time to write and produce.
 
Underwood also owns his own photography business, so he’s looking forward to spring when he can record his own visuals to accompany his music.
 
“I’m just trying to fill that need.”
 
Detroit Enterprise is part of NHA, a charter school management company in Grand Rapids, Mich. with 98 tuition-free, public charter schools across nine states, serving more than 60,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade.