Q & A: About Drum Circles
by Christine Stevens & Arthur Hull

A Drum Circle IS

  • A community music-making event where people sit or stand in a circle while playing world percussion instruments.
  • People play improvised rhythms. Music is created in the moment.
  • Instead of a teacher, there is a facilitator – someone with musical experience and facilitation training who leads from the center of the circle.
  • In the Drum Circle, there is no audience. Everyone is part of the performance.

A Drum Circle is NOT

  • According to Mickey Hart: “The Drum Circle is not a professional ensemble, nor is it really about music, but rather a group of friends having a rhythm party.
  • A clinic where students sit in theatre-style facing a stage and watch a high-profile player demonstrate and teach one tradition of drumming on one specific instrument.
  • A culturally specific (i.e. African or Cuban) drum class.
  • In the Drum Circle, there is no audience. Everyone is part of the performance.

Types of Drum Circles

  • Thunder Drummers – unfacilitated free form jams
  • Facilitated community drum circles.
  • Rhythm events for kid’s programs at schools and boys and girls clubs.
  • Drum Circles for at-risk kids at alternative satellite schools.
  • Rhythm based events at adult day centers and nursing homes for the well elderly.
  • Special needs population circles facilitated by music therapists.

Why do people go to Drum Circles?

  • For fun.
  • Sense of community.
  • Introduction to rhythm and percussion technique.
  • Musical expression.
  • Health benefits: stress-reduction, creative expression, and feeling better.
  • Experience of unity.

(See the HealthRhythms section for more information on the medical benefits of empowerment group drumming).

Why do Drum Circles work?

  • Because people entrain to a dominant rhythm.
  • Because rhythm is innate and drumming just brings it out of people
  • Because it’s a quick and easy way for people to get involved in music making.
  • Because a facilitator assists the group in working together to create a groove.

Who attends Drum Circles?

  • Everyone!
  • Young or old.
  • Physically challenged.
  • Beginners to advanced players.
  • Wellness consumers.

Where do Drum Circles take place?

  • Music stores.
  • Schools.
  • Community centers.
  • Nursing homes.
  • Corporations.
  • Spiritual Centers.
  • Parks.

When do Drum Circles take place?

  • Evenings and weekends.
  • Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
  • Special events.

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