There are lots of questions around drum circles. For many of the older adults with whom I’m privileged to work, drum circle are a new idea. Most of them are unfamiliar with the idea of being part of creating “music” as a group that isn’t from a sheet of music or structured as a sing-along. They want to know why they are being asked to “do this” drumming stuff. After I share a health benefit or two, we restart the drumming. Some days with some groups we do get a bit of a groove going.
It isn’t the same as the drum circles I experience while jamming with the FHSU students or at AMTA conference. It is simple, basic. Rarely is it a musical high.
Over the 20 plus years that I’ve used drums in senior living communities, I’ve learned to flex to the day and the group. There are days when agitation is best served by drumming and days where it is best to sing calm, relaxing music. It is what it is. When I use drum circles it meets the goal set or meets the desired outcome. But, it is nothing extended or mesmerizing.
It is more than my experiences with drum circles that has me question things, it is the weather that sometimes makes me question the wisdom of including a drum circle in a session. Trust me, it is a challenge to load and unload anything when the wind is at 30+mph or the rain is pouring or the snow and ice are burying your car. When these weather events are occurring I DO question whether or not to include the planned drum circle in that day’s session(s).
Yet, there have been those moments when an older adult expresses pride after hearing a group repeat their rhythm or the focus of the participants shifts from concerns to the group process or the group erupts in a rumble and laughter. Those moments make the questioning by participants, less than stellar experience, and challenges presented by Mother Nature worth the hauling of all that equipment.
If my experiences are any indication, the drum circle question is centered on those I serve.
- Will it help they meet a personal or group goal?
- Will it support appropriate connection and interaction with others?
- Will it provide novelty to their day/week/month?
- Is it something they should experience?
The answer isn’t always yes. But, when it is, the drums come out.
Just a little food for thought as we enter International Drum Month.