Next is now, world music as the single most potent force in the culture of fusion ... World music-makers are like shamans, carrying us on magic carpets of riffs and melodies through states of consciousness that spin us out of time to lands not yet invented but glimpsed on the aural horizon ... And so we see that music brings us, in the jumping of our cells, from what is past to what is trying to become the future. lt expresses and fulfills our need to hear the spirit in the dark.
(Jean Houston in Jump Time, Sentient Publ. 2004)
Drumming Circles - Beat Your Way to Energy and Inspiration
First your foot starts to tap, then your hands beat a staccato rhythm on your lap and, before you know it, you're bopping along to the beat. We've all experienced the energy in a night club and felt our pulses quicken to the 'doof doof doof' of a bass drum. It's undeniable: drumming and dancing is energising and exhilarating.
Drumming circles - corporate, school or community events where groups of people sit in a circle playing improvised beats on percussion instruments - are gaining popularity in social as well as business and therapeutic settings.
Drumming circles are by no means a modern invention. Many cultures the world over have long used drumming to strengthen communities; to energise and aid concentration and creativity; even for relaxation. Because no musical experience is necessary drumming circles are accessible and are great team building exercises in any context.
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Drums from Around the World
Drums come in all shapes and sizes. The instruments used in drumming circles are often of West African or Middle Eastern origin, as opposed to the drums associated with mainstream rock/pop/country music (though these may be used too).
The dumbek, for example, is of Middle Eastern origin. The player holds the drum under the left arm and taps out the beat with the fingers of both hands. Originally, dumbeks were carved of wood, but now you'll find metal and ceramic drumbeks too.
Djembe drums are also a popular choice. Originating in Western Africa, the djembe was (and sometimes still is) used in healing ceremonies, rites of passage and other tribal ritual occasions as well as in social events.
Probably the most well known small handheld drum is the tambourine. Most of us have played a tambourine at some time - they're small, fun, and virtually fool proof. The tambourine, in one form or another, shows up in the history of many different cultures and has as many names: Gaval, Tamburello, Riq and many more.
Drums such as the drumbek and djembe often feature in world and new age music. Frank Natale, aka Professor Trance and one of the most inspirational figures in the new age movement, promoted drumming and dance - and tribal music from many cultures - as a way to find your inner balance and place in the world. Frank Natale passed on in 2002 but left us an inspiring legacy in his music and his work around the world.
Drumming and Team Building
So why is drumming such a great team building exercise? There are several reasons, the most obvious being that drumming reduces stress. It puts people in a relaxed social circle and lets them pound out their frustrations on a drum. It's easy and fun, and the environment is friendly and non-judgemental; there is no competition and no one person is more important or suffers more scrutiny than anyone else.
Drumming is also great for creativity. It encourages use of the right side of the brain - the creative side - which, combined with the release of tension, frees up the mind and helps the ideas start to flow again. Because drumming is energising, it also creates enthusiasm and, as the saying goes, "nothing great in life is achieved without enthusiasm."
Another reason why drumming is so great for team building and team bonding is that it encourages cooperation and illustrates that every member in the team is equally important. When everybody plays their part the result is harmonious and cohesive.
So there you have it: drumming is healthy! It encourages team work; promotes creativity and gives inspiration; reduces stress and energises. If you aren't so sure about the truth of that, grab an old plastic bucket and turn it on it's head, then tap away for a while - it won't take you long to find the beat!
And if you simply want to dance to great drum music check out Music Mosaic's drum compilations.