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The 2010 NAMM Annual Drum Circle - Part Two

  03/28/10 02:00, by , Categories: NAMM 2010 Music, BFMN Exclusive , Tags: arthur hull, ashti drum, barefootmusicnews, christine stevens, dangrigor, drum circle, namm, remo drum company

We recently gave you Part One of our BareFootMusicNews staffers’ reactions to experiencing the NAMM All-Industry Drum Circle, sponsored by REMO Drum Company, for the first time.

We were compelled to research the phenomenon further. We found that the benefits of “group percussion” are truly far-reaching and multi-dimensional.

In the Drum Circle, there is no audience. Everyone is part of the performance. There are no “pros” or plans. Music is improvised in the moment and built upon by the community that is instantly formed. And as surely as the pulse that beats within the chest of each of us, that rhythm has its effect: uniting, motivating, healing…for some, a primal howl from the deepest core is pounded out to ripple like laughter into the atmosphere.

Tap, click, pound or bang on through for more stories and a video!

Arthur Hull, regarded by many as the father of the modern-day community drum circle movement, has been hosting the annual circle for 16 straight years and his joyous percussion is recognized around the world. As founder of Village Music Circles™, he brought the team-building power of the drum circle to major corporations and international organizations. Spreading the ripples further, he has been teaching the teachers for 20 years, establishing the groundwork for training drum circle facilitators in the US, UK, Canada, China, Japan, Germany and Norway.

Arthur brought two guest facilitators to this year’s NAMM Drum Circle: Paulo Mattioli and Christine Stevens.

Paulo, a renowned performing multi-percussionist and instrument designer, created FitRhythms, an exercise program that combines the mind/body benefits of group drumming with aerobic movement into a workout that is accessible, fun and effective for many.

Holding masters degrees in both social work and music therapy, Christine inspires people all over the world with her music solutions for holistic health and wellness. The founder of UpBeat Drum Circles, she has taken her message of music’s role in healing to television, print, and more directly to students at Columbine High School, Ground Zero, and survivors of Katrina in New Orleans. Now, as troops prepare to withdraw from Iraq, music is moving in. A program (supported by NAMM, REMO Drum Company, Humanity Unites Brilliance and private donors) called Ashti Drum, which means “Peace Drum” in Kurdish, is generating great success in conflict resolution, leadership development, youth empowerment, and therapeutic rehabilitation through the simple use of the drum. Christine is the author of The Healing Drum Kit and The Art and Heart of Drum Circles.

Arthur and Christine both generously agreed to answer some questions for BareFootMusicNews and share some great stories of their experiences. Here are a few of those responses:

BFMN: You have traveled the world leading drum circles. Which experience made the most impact on you and why?

Christine: My most memorable experience was going to a children’s rehabilitation center in Kurdish Iraq and drumming with injured children and their families in the waiting area. A young child in a wheelchair with severly injured legs, slunched over, depressed, had a complete transformation. He picked up a drum and lit up. He played so well! He taught me and the whole group a few great rhythms. His father was absolutely overjoyed to see his son experience happiness. We must remember the musical soul that is never injured, even in the war zone.

BFMNWhat one aspect of the Drum Circle experience would people find most surprising?

Arthur: Drumming can calm some one in the same circle where it is exciting some one else. Amongst the high volume and excitement in the middle of a drum circle, there is a place of calmness in-between the notes being played. It just depends where you want to put your focus.

BFMN: You work your percussive magic in hospice situations, the corporate environment, disaster locations; where have you felt the impact the most or felt the most needed?

Christine: Whether in a corporate setting, hospital, disaster area, or training HealthRHYTHMS facilitators, I find the same themes. People are hungry to drum out their joy, release fear, connect through music, and feel safe to discover the rhythm within. The Drum Circle is “a collective container for self-expression.” We are all hungry to find the creative joy within ourselves.

BFMN: Is it the group dynamic that makes the drumming so rejuvenating, or the percussive action itself? In other words, how big a group is required to be effective, or is a solo percussive meditation effective?

Arthur: Yes! Yes! One or more…and YES!

When one drummer is drumming by herself, it is a solo. It is an in-the-moment process of expressing her emotional, psychological and musical spirit through rhythmical exploration. With only one person drumming, it is her own personal journey. Whether she is aware of it or not, she is sharing her rhythmical spirit with those around her.

When she is drumming with someone else, they are two drummers expressing their emotional, psychological and musical spirits by talking to each other using rhythm. They are sharing their spirits with each other as well as with anyone nearby. With two drummers it is a dialogue and there is even more excitement. The attraction of the drum call is even stronger.

When there are three or more drummers playing together you have a Drum Circle, and their connections, the rhythms and the shared rhythmical spirit deepen. Each added player in the Drum Circle is another point of reference and expression that is connecting to every other person in the circle. That group connection creates and interlocks the web of rhythm and music being woven in the circle.

Even though the drummers’ intent is mostly to entrain themselves and share their rhythmical spirits with each other, the public entertainment factor of a Drum Circle in a park always draws a crowd. It’s not just the sound they hear that attracts and entices the passersby. Part of the attraction is the subsonic sound wave caused by the air being pushed out of the drum every time the drummers play their instruments. These sound waves massage the bodies nearby. The closer someone gets to an ongoing drum circle, the stronger this sensation is. When they get into close proximity to the drums they can feel it deep in their bodies. This drum massage touches both the players and spectators. In a healthy drum circle, it is ever present. The vibrations of a drum massage not only permeate into all the fibers of our bodies, but they massage our emotions, our thoughts and our souls as well. This is one of the deeper attractions for people who participate in rhythm-based events.

BFMN: What is the biggest drum circle in which you have participated?

Christine: I believe that any time I’m facilitating a drum circle or even drumming alone, there are probably others drumming at the same moment; and that’s the big drum circle I"m part of. Just imagine how many people may be drumming simultaneously around the world at any given time! But the technical answer is 1200 Panda Express managers and partners in Hawaii a few years ago.

♦   ◊    ♦

We’ll be back soon with more stories about this fascinating phenomenon, but first, another chance to see it in action in a video from the 2010 NAMM All-Industry Drum Circle. This is amazing. Led by Arthur Hull, a huge circle of drummers — rock stars, vendors, CEOs and roadies, the wealthy and the homeless, people of all ages, types and styles — played like it was their job for what seemed like hours. Dan Grigor, intrepid cameraman for BFMN, took the camera to dead center of the circle to give you a 360-degree view of the drummers, the facilitators, the crowd and the fun. A truly unique perspective and a BareFootMusicNews NAMM Exclusive.

Stay Tuned! There’s more!

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