The history of drums and the military is rich in tradition and customs. Military drummers have played a crucial role in warfare throughout history, as soldiers marched to battle to the sound of the drums and used the beat to regulate the loading and reloading of their weapons during the battle and to raise morale during the fight. Although drummers are no longer present for military formation today as the rules of engagement and the procedures of combat have changed; service members utilize the “internal beat” by chanting cadences when marching or jogging in formation. The internal drummer is still inside us and enables the formation to remain in cadence and step as one.
Through my experience as Navy Captain with over 25 years of service, I have applied many skills acquired from serving our country to being a successful HealthRHYTHMs trained facilitator and business owner and have found many similarities between the two and may help you to gain insight on military culture.
CULTURE: The military culture and integrity creates an environment to uphold the highest level of moral values and ethics. Upholding the military Core Values of honor, courage and commitment, lays the foundation for all service members to respect each other, work hard and persevere until mission completion. As HealthRHYTHMs trained facilitators, we are also creating a culture of honor and integrity by creating an environment of respect by honoring each other and the center of the circle (understanding the power of the facilitator’s position).
SERVICE: Sharing the same CREED for military personnel and drum circle facilitation. Military personnel volunteer to serve our country in defending America’s interests and to protect our allies and weaker nations. A HealthRHYTHMs trained facilitator is also of service, by always keeping the question in mind: what do the participants need and how can I serve that need in the circle?
CADENCE: Military routine is maintained through a daily cadence from reveille (wake up), morning colors (observe the raising of national flag at 0800 everyone morning), to, evening colors (lowering of national flag at sundown) and taps (2200 – 10 pm). It is a daily rhythm or cadence. A similar cadence and pulse established and maintained by the beat of the HealthRHYTHMS grandma drum, buffalo drum or bass drum.
STRATEGY/ROAD MAP: Military leaders develop strategy and plans to protect America’s interest and defend our nation’s freedom for the proper utilization of personnel, property and resources. These plans are written as orders and road map for military personnel to follow through the use of the chain of command. A HealthRHYTHMs trained facilitator follows the 10 step HealthRHYTHMS Group Empowerment Drumming protocol (roadmap); keeping the concepts simple, working with what the group gives you and following your heart and gut to where the groove take the group.
BUILDING CONNECTIONS: Teamwork, camaraderie and trust are vital in the military environment to ensure the survival and safety of military personnel (band of brothers). It is through connections that a unit is formed and the sum is greater than the individual parts. The HealthRHYTHMs protocol establishes opportunity and experience for the participants to share camaraderie and trust through sharing musical experience by sharing internal beat and playing music together and connecting. When combined as a whole unit, the sum is greater than its individual parts.
COMMUNICATION: Military personnel learn and utilize new terminology with language, signals, acronyms and body gestures/language. The HealthRHYTHMs trained facilitation does not require the use of spoken words as the rhythm of the percussive instruments, hand signals, body language, eye contact speak louder than words.
SURVEILANCE: Security and safety by always being “on watch” are critical to the survival of personnel in protecting our nation. In order to serve the needs of the participants, it is critically important to utilize the human senses (especially hearing, visualizing and feeling) to enhance the experience for the participants. The HealthRHYTHMs Group Empowerment Drumming protocol combines the evidence based research with personal emotion, stories and reflection. The HealthRHYTHMs trained facilitator creates an environment of trust in order for participants to feel comfortable sharing personal stories, thoughts or feelings.
RECOGNITION: Military tradition in rich in recognition through military awards and honors for the sacrifice made by military personnel. A HeatlRHYTHMs Group Empowerment Drumming event also provides an opportunity to recognize and showcase through music.
PRIDE AND PATRIOTISM: Military members are proud of their branch of military they served … many where baseball caps to show their service, patriotism and pride. As a HealthRHYTHMs trained facilitator, embrace this strong patriotism by incorporating service songs and patriotic songs in the drum circle, drum roles, chanting and an American flag in the backdrop.
GRAND FINALE AND CLOSING: Many attributes of military culture can relate to the HealthRHYTHMs Group Empowerment Drumming protocol and approach. Query the personnel in your drum circle event to recognize veterans (and their families) and thank them for their service. Ask them when and how long they served, which branch of the military, if they were drafted or volunteered, if they were in combat, welcome them to the drum circle, thank them for their service. Offer a beat of gratitude for their service and for those military members currently defending our nation today.
Becky Watson, MBA, MT-BC, is the Owner of Music for Wellness, a company that provides programs and services for enriching mind, body, and spirit through music. As one of the rare women to become a former Navy Captain, Becky has always been passionate about supporting the health and healing of veterans and people who are community heroes through the use of MUSIC.
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