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L.A. Beat

Drum Beat #26 — ’Tis the season for drum circles

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It is the time of the year that I notice drum circles starting to pop up. Interestingly enough I have never been part of a drum circle. I always thought they were sort of strange. I decided over the last two weeks to do some research on drum circles and check one out myself. I found out I enjoyed the experience and they are indeed a great experience for most who attend them.

For those who are not aware of what a drum circle is, it is a getting together of people from all backgrounds and playing abilities to play drums together. In fact you do not even have to be skilled at playing drums. To attend requires an open mind and the willingness to participate. I believe more people would attend but for their inhibitions that they cannot play a drum. I can tell you that every person can hit a drum with the beat. If it seems overwhelming then start out slow by playing just one beat here and there until you pick up the beat or pulse of what the group is playing. The best part of a drumming circle is that it is free to attend.

After talking to a few folks who run drum circles these are the conclusions I came to. First drumming, or any playing of music is good for you. To play drums for an extended amount of time is a great form of exercise. You will not even be aware you are raising your heart rate and working your muscles. One recent study showed that drumming has proven to be good for the immune system. Research showed that hand drumming increases the amount of T-cells. T-cells are one of the most important elements of the immune system.

Not only do you get physical benefits but you get mental benefits as well. One common thread I heard when talking to drum circle organizers was that when the group is going strong that the members achieve a linking of consciousness. This is usually demonstrated when without rehearsing the group will increase in intensity and tempo. Many times people have said the group will all stop at the same time just out of nowhere. The circle requires you to think and elevate your brain activity.

Keeping beats and thinking about rhythm makes you think in a different way then you might think normally. Music has the power to create a group consciousness. What better way than a drum circle to create a strong energy within yourself. The energy can be both refreshing and spiritual if you let it.

Drum circles seem to bring together people of many different age groups. When you think about it, it is not too often that someone who is 15 can relate or have something in common with somebody who is 60. Basically it transcends peer groups. I think this is a great way for people of a community to meet others that they would never have the chance to meet and get to know.

Drum circles in a sense are a part of many different cultures. People have been getting together and playing drums for many different reasons for years. Events such as rituals, celebrations, weddings, etc. are common in many places around the world for playing drums. Drums played in a certain way by many have been used as a way of communication among tribes. Think about it. Get 2000 people playing drums and you could communicate to another group of people far away just through the sound and the interpretation of the various beats that are being played.

Now obviously this is not as common in this day and age of technology but I do believe that in some parts of the world this is still true. I am sure whether people know it or not that when they hear a beat or drums playing that on some level they are being communicated with or feeling the soul of another who is playing the drum.

The most common theme that kept coming up while researching drum circles is that they create energy. This energy can manifest itself in many ways.

Every person I talked to said they felt a conscious energy from the group. Some people said that when they left drum circles that they had an unusual source of energy and pep in their step for days afterwards.

My suggestion is seek out a drum circle in your community and attend one. They are in almost every community these days. You might find that it is not for you but you might find out it is something that helps your mind, body and spirit. The  bottom line is drum circles are a good thing.

Until next time have a great day and get outside and enjoy the Spring.

— By Stanley Jackson, Special To L.A. Beat
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