Friday, November 13, 2009

Not all drum circles are created equal

Posted By on Fri, Nov 13, 2009 at 5:22 PM

"A whole bunch of people slapping drums as if they were swatting flies." That’s how I used to view drum circles — just a whole bunch of noise. And so for years I avoided them. The thought of dozens of people banging away near me was simply unappetizing.

But I’ve learned recently that not all drum circles are the same. A drum circle facilitator can turn noise into healing sound, putting people in a state of bliss. So much that people will use words and phrases like “transformative,” “changed my life,” and “the best thing that ever happened to me” to describe their drum-circle experience.

Drum circles, which are basically groups of people gathered in a circle and playing percussion instruments, have been around for a long time. Part of what makes them attractive is that anyone of any age, race and gender can participate. Drumming is easy; no experience is required. Everyone’s a drummer.

Drum circles are relaxing. People can hammer out their stress on a drum. The collective sound can also travel through the body, helping to release energy and tension. I’ve seen people get completely lost in the drumming, eyes closed, grinning broadly, swaying to the beat. Afterwards, they say they feel as if they’re walking on clouds.

Drum circles build relationships. Participants listen to each other in order to play on the same beat. It is not about what one person can drum but rather what sounds the entire group can create. Participants, in unison, can also drum messages such as “yes, we can” or chant someone’s name. Drumming doesn’t always have to be in unison, however. People can take turns expressing their feelings through drumbeats or play around and finish a team-players beat.

Drum circles build confidence and reduce inhibitions. I’ve seen quiet people drum with such confidence that you’d think they’re performing on stage. I’ve seen painfully shy people walk out of a room, after the drum circle has ended, surrounded by a network of new friends.

Drum circles are more than just noise. They are peaceful yet invigorating, empowering and very powerful.

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