A drum circle is a group of people who’ve gathered together, using drums and percussive instruments to create a musical experience.
…the experience isn’t always about the drum or the music per se.
Depending on what type of drum circle you have chosen to attend, may determine the outcome of the participation. See our article ‘How do I choose a drum circle?’ for details on the different types of drum circles.
In the course of facilitating many workshops and drum circles, I can honestly say, no two are ever the same. And no amount of planning can ever make them the same – that’s the joy of music. And therefore no ‘outcome’ is ever the same, even for the same participant. As a participant, some of my most enjoyable experiences have been in the circles of the ‘community open jam’ style, where there is limited if any facilitation, and rhythms can simply be started by any participant, and everyone simply joins in with their own jam. But lot’s of people like to be facilitated; told what to do and when to do it, and sometimes that’s easier when you’re new to drumming.
Drum circles can be lots of fun, and the outcomes are varied:
• Maybe as a participant who’s drummed before, you might find you can practice your technique. Looking at how your hands use the space on your drum, better varying the tones and slaps that you’re achieving on your drum.
• As a new participant, there are no rules, so you can start to experience what it’s like to drum without having the expectation of achieving a certain rhythm which would be the expectation of a ‘class’ situation.
• I can provide a medium for self expression, in a safe environment.
• You may find that you can experiment with ‘soloing’ or finding your own patterns and rhythms. Look for the open spaces in the rhythm. Or don’t! Join in with the participants around you and create a heavy groove. But be careful; if you note them constantly changing rhythms, maybe they are trying to play something different to those around them, and you should take note of that.
• Many people speak of finding a meditative state of mind. I’m not going all voodoo on you, but think about the idea that within a drum circle you’re likely to play a repetitive rhythm, and can really get into that groove. So much so that you stop thinking about it, and your mind starts to slow and calm. I find I receive this feedback more from newer drummers than more experienced; maybe it’s because it’s new, and they haven’t experienced it before, and maybe it’s because they’re not caught up in trying to achieve anything special, other than drum.
• Imagine the social benefits of being part of a drum circle; meeting new people, being part of a group that is trying to achieve something as a whole, but with no expectation of what that is. Everything eventually works together.
• Recreational or more relaxed drum circles are about relaxing, being in the moment and working with the group. Many people speak about how they felt their day to day stresses just drifting away, and being able to really just enjoy the rhythm of the drum and the music being created. One participant emailed me this: “Thanks Megan. I enjoyed tonight. A bit out of rhythm but fun! Was feeling a bit *&% , but about half an hour after class my horrible mood lifted right off me. I’m glad I went. It fixed it.”
• Drumming creates connection – yes, it does. You are naturally connected in that group, because you are creating something together. Don’t believe me? Give it a go, you’ll be surprised.
• There are many health benefits reported to be connected with drumming. This in itself would require a whole article, so we’ve found this summary that you might rather read.
Can I just say here, each type of drum circle may not be for everyone. Explore the various types of circles, and choose one that suits you, or the mood you’re in at the time. (Remember to check out our blog, ‘How do I choose a drum circle?’) Some experienced drummers find the more open style of drumming with no ethnic basis frustrating, the lack of direction and traditional rhythms just not for them. And that’s ok. And other jammers prefer to simply be in the moment, be themselves and let go, and therefore they might be looking for a more community based style event with less direction and no ethnically specific rhythms. It’s all good. It’s about choosing something you’re interested in, and joining that community, joining that tribe, and getting finding your groove.
Join the tribe
Find your groove