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Music with EldersWe may not be in Venice Beach, but drum circles are starting up at Magnolia and Primrose! Last night we hosted our first drum circle with residents of both care homes and it was AMAZING. Everyone participated and had a great time whether they were drumming a beat, shaking a maraca, or playing the tambourine.  Residents copied rhytms, created their own rhytms, and later added percussion to guitar played by Susie Halsell. We liked it so much that our “drum circle” will be a permanent weekly fixture around here.

So, what is a drum circle? A drum circle can mean lots of different things, Basically its any group of people playing percussion in a circle. The focus is on the event itself, not practicing for a performance or attempting to make an actual song. Here is a great quotation from Mickey Hart, Grateful Dead drummer, during a testimony before the United States Special Committee on Aging,

Typically people gather to drum in drum “circles” wiht others from the surrounding community. The drum circle offers equality because there is no head or tail. It includes people of all ages. The main objective is to share rhythm and get in tune with each other and themselves. To form a group consciousness. To entrain and resonate. By entertainment, I mean that a new voice, a collective voice, emerges from the group as they drum together.

Why do a drum circle? Well there are lots of benefits to this form of expression and music! They include:

  • Loosening stiff joints in the arms and hands
  • Improving circulation in the arms and hands
  • Providing an easily accessible mild exercise
  • Stimulating the mind with music
  • Building a sense of group identiy
  • Can easily be done as an intergenerational activty with youth.
  • Really fun, many say it “makes them feel young again”

So, what do you need to start your own drum circle? While fancy African drums and bongos would be wonderful, you can also find many other less expensive instruments. In fact, it’s nice to have a variety of percussion instruments since every participant may have a different capabilities with their hands and arms and different interests. Here are some things we used last night that worked out great

  • large metal coffee cans for drumming. Oatmeal cartons work too!
  • small glass bottles filled with beans or other small objects
  • hatboxes (they make great makeshift drums!)
  • maracas ( often inexpensive)
  • a stick rubbed on the outside of a ridged coffee can
  • get creative!

Have you ever been a part of a drum circle? What instruments would YOU add?Ladies of the drum circle

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