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D
rumming for Wellness
 

The ART of Drum Circles

© Christine Stevens MSW, MT-BC

The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Drumming for Wellness by Christine Stevens MSW, MT-BC. View all columns in series
Wisdom of the Ancients
Where and when did drum circles begin? Who invented this practice of drumming together in a circle? What was the ancient purpose of drum circles?

Although we can never definitively answer these questions, we can theorize, and many scholars have and do. One thing is for sure; most cultures have drummed for rituals, celebrations, and ceremonies. Drum circles seem to tap into the primal need to share and support one another through one of the simplest and most beautiful ways to connect without words; music.

Trend Alert
From Time magazine to USA Today and the New York Times, the mainstream media is enthusiastically calling the ancient wisdom of drum circles "a rapidly growing holistic health trend," (My Generation Magazine, AARP, Nov/Dec, 2002). At one time considered a hippie grassroots thing on beaches and in parks, drum circles are now taking place at the likes of Toyota Corporate headquarters and the World Federation Banking Conference. From executives to spiritual seekers, young children to well elderly, this practice of group drumming is much more than a fad. Get ready for a real wave of music making that has the potential to change our culture and restore the power of community gatherings.

Recreational Drumming
The term recreational is actually derived from the Latin "recreatio," which means "restoration to health," (Merriam Webster). A research study by Barry Bittman, MD, sponsored by Remo, demonstrated the power of drumming for health purposes. The study found that one hour of group drumming with normal subjects who had never drummed before, following a specific protocol called group empowerment drumming ™ reversed the stress response by significantly increasing NK (Natural Killer) cells (Bittman et al. Alternative Therapies, January, 2002). This groundbreaking study launched a new credibility for drum circles and recreational drumming as a method of stress reduction and as a preventive health strategy. (For more information on the research and training programs, go to www.remo.com, and click on HealthRHYTHMS.)

Recreational drumming provides important musical skill development, including rhythmicity, improvisation, and ensemble playing. But it also reaches far beyond musical benefits. Including stress reduction, self-expression, and community connection, the emerging philosophy of recreational music making is not about becoming a technically proficient performer. It's really about finding the music within everyone and giving drumming enthusiasts and hobbyists a way to keep making music in their lives.

Recreational Drumming Philosophy
Group drumming is not about inspiring successful drumming--
it's about inspiring successful living.
Group drumming is not about exceptional performance--
it's about exceptional support and personal expression. Group drumming is not about teaching people to play--
it's about giving people permission to play.
Group drumming's best facilitators are not only talented musicians-
they are caring, compassionate and intuitive guides.
Group drumming is not about acquiring technique-
it's about sharing for the sake of personal empowerment.

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About The Author
Christine Stevens is an international speaker, music therapist, and author. A modern-day troubadour, she introduces people all over the world to the power of musical expression. As Director of Music Therapy and Wellness Programs at Remo, Inc., Christine developed HealthRHYTHMS, currently being taught to health-care professionals in the United......more
 
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