by Erin & Stephen Brand, Owners of Love Joy Music

Do you feel stressed at work? Are you frustrated with life? Do wish you had a creative outlet? Are you longing for a community that makes you feel good about yourself? Would you like to find a place where being perfect is not the goal? A place where communication and group effort rise above competition?  A place where you can’t make a mistake and everything you do contributes to a beautiful creation? Do you want to be around people and share a meaningful experience without actually having to talk to them? 

Congratulations!!  The group drumming experience is exactly what you didn’t know you needed.  I know, I know. You think you’re not musical enough? Pish Tosh! A common misconception. All people are born musical! Say it again. A little louder this time, and with more feeling– use your whole body. ALL PEOPLE ARE BORN MUSICAL!

Let’s start at the beginning. Once upon a time, you were a baby, and babies are born music makers.  The day babies are born, they have the capacity to move. Over time their irregular movements develop into a characteristic gesture of 2-5 short, angular movements that correspond to the beginning and ending of a musical stimulus.  Babies are also born with the capacity to make sounds like cooing, crying, and squealing. Did you know that babies have their own personal pitch center? That is, they tend to make sound around one central pitch. The sounds that babies make can be affected by ambient sounds like a noisy heater, or buzzy fluorescent lights, or a mother or father singing. Also, a baby’s babble will start to match the rhythms and musical qualities of their mother’s speech.  Finally, babies have the capacity to synchronize their sounds and movements with an external stimulus (also called entrainment). In other words, when we dance or clap along to music, we are entraining to the beat.  These are the default settings that babies are born with. These are your default settings that you were born with!

Music is our birthright. We are all music makers.  Our heart beat, our breathing, our walking, and our sleep cycles are all rhythms that are fundamental to life. Even our names have a rhythm. So now that you know that you’re musical and capable, let’s explore why drumming in particular is so universal, unique, and powerful. 

Music therapist Christine Stevens observed the following eight therapeutic insights about group drumming:

Drumming is accessible.It provides successful and inclusive experiences for people.  Unlike many other instruments such as a trumpet or violin, all you have to do is hit a drum to play it. With practice will you can learn more techniques and artistry, but group drumming meets you where you are. 

Drumming is aesthetic.  Everyone is interacting in the creation of something beautiful. In a world that is increasingly about to-do lists, test scores, and performance reports, there is something deeply gratifying about creating art for the sake of creating art. 

Drumming is expressive. This is a unique opportunity to connect directly to your emotions and feelings- known and unknown. You don’t even have to be able to label them to play them on the drum. Your playing can be energetic, calm, chaotic, contemplative, steady, joyful, frustrated, hopeful, quiet, angry, or anything in between.  

Drumming is physical. You may be having too much fun to notice in the moment, but it is common to notice a healthy fatigue at the end of a good drumming session.  

Drumming is powerful. It’s a primal activity that connects us to the oldest parts of our humanity. Every culture on the planet has drumming.

Drumming is communicative. In a group drumming experience, you can share ideas and creativity even if: you don’t know someone; even if you don’t share a language; even if you don’t share political views! As they say, music is the common language. 

Drumming is bonding. At the end, you will feel like you’ve been a part of something. You will feel a sense of unity stemming from a shared artistic experience. Everyone contributed and everyone was important.

Drumming is cognitive. You have to be present. You can’t explore your creativity and express it on the drum and create your shopping list for tomorrow and worry about your upcoming parent/teacher conference. Drumming requires your perception, attention and memory. Give your thinking mind a break and just be.

Drumming is your chance to connect. It’s an opportunity to be mindful and take time for yourself. Go inward and unravel some of those knots that your busy life has been tying you into.  If you’re looking for some opportunities to give it a try, then follow Love Joy Music or Saint Anne’s Chapel in Tarboro on Facebook for upcoming events.