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The Freestyle Drum Circle

On one of the many Yahoo drum circle groups I belong to someone posted an opinion about how drum circle novices should take lessons before participating in drum circles and not consider themselves "drummers". Here was my response:


"...I think that this issue depends on the intention of the circle. If the purpose of the circle is to play great traditional African (or Middle Eastern or Latin, etc) music, then by all means, the drummers should be trained so that they have a clue as to what they are doing.


On the other hand, if it's a freestyle community drum circle like mine, the intention is different. We drum to create an atmosphere of spirituality or healing or sociality or creativity or fun... whatever the participant comes to get. Most of our newbies drum quietly and don't disrupt the circle. They soon develop the ability to hear the improvised music and interact effectively with it. They learn by doing, by watching. They ask questions. They develop their sense of tempo. They learn to hold down the beat while more experienced drummers play lead. They learn to embellish effectively. They learn when to step into the foreground and when to recede into the background. They intuitively learn what's best for the music. All that's required of me is patience... and the relinquishing of control.


As recorded music first became accessible... people stopped singing in their homes and while they worked. People who sang for its own sake... for their own enjoyment... heard voices like Caruso's and became embarrassed at the sound of their own voices. I find that sad. That kind of thinking has become ingrained in our culture. Our society makes it very clear to our children who should be playing music or sports... who should be drawing or dancing... We're here to achieve not to enjoy.


In freestyle drum circles we learn to trust ourselves and one another... to play with joy... to take risks... to make time for ourselves... to allow others to be heard... to allow others to be different... to allow others to grow... to allow ourselves and others to make mistakes: All lessons of great value.

Creating a community where it is safe to express oneself without words... Where one can grow in so many ways, connect with others, learn, and laugh... building bridges between people instead of walls... That's our intent."

musicbook musicbook 61-65, M 2 Responses Jun 28, 2012

Your Response


I agree with you completely. I've taken a few drumming lessons, but most of what I learned has been by getting into the circle and flowing with the rhythms. Drums are the heartbeat of the human spirit.

Building bridges instead of walls sounds like a great idea and so does your version of a drum circle.