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Recent Events & Articles (Our blog)


  • Many voices, one sound – is your team hitting the right notes with its team-building initiatives?

    Getting clarity on team-building initiatives

    When I speak to a potential client for a team-building program, I ask for details to provide me with context about the environment and culture.  Do people generally get along?  Has there been an influx of new hires lately?  Are there any clashes between the “old guard” and the newer generations?

    Many times, the potential client reaching out only knows they want to offer some type of “team-building,” but they’re not sure what messages that should or could include.  A few years back, I took a course with amazing facilitator Mary Tolena, owner of Rhythm Lift and a Remo-endorsed drum circle facilitator .  Her client intake form includes a great question:  what do you want your participants to think, feel and be ready to do by the end of the session?

    This usually sparks some insightful comments from the potential client.  Often, someone offers that the team includes a lot of people from various backgrounds who simply have challenges getting along with each other.  Maybe there are too many cooks in the kitchen – some who are 62, and some who are 28.

    At this point in the conversation, I’ll expand on how drumming programs help bring people together.  The simple act of everyone playing drums together encourages participants to listen to what each person contributes to the overall sound.  Read on for two other ways drumming can foster an inclusive environment.  Then ask yourself, how is your team doing with its team-building initiatives?

    A symphony of sounds

    In the drum circle, there are many types of drums – from large bass drums to small handheld drums and everything in between.  Also, we often include small percussion like egg shakers, Boomwhackers, bells, and wood blocks.  At some point during the jam session, I’ll usually stop the whole group and highlight one type of instrument, e.g., the shakers.  When the boom-y, bass-y sound of the drums drops out and all you hear are a bunch of little egg shakers, I usually see a few smiles in the group, like, “Wow!  I didn’t even know those guys were playing.”  We show appreciation for each group’s (and person’s) contribution to the rhythm, and in the process, we might hear new rhythms or ideas emerge.

    A metaphor for diversity

    Right, so “diversity” is a generic term that can encompass a lot of smaller and more specific items.  It usually goes hand-in-hand with “inclusion.”  What is your group really saying when it claims those two values?

    Well, “diversity” can refer to race, ethnicity, religion, orientation, age, or a myriad of other categories.  “Inclusion” typically means that a group welcomes all people in these categories and values a variety of thoughts, beliefs, and opinions of its participants.

    Now, under this umbrella is where the drum circle thrives.  In it, we accept everyone as they are and listen to and appreciate their ideas.  Participants can listen to other’s contributions in non-judgmental atmosphere and compare their own thoughts, actions, and decisions.

    Now what?

    How does your team or work environment approach diversity and inclusion?  What specific initiatives or policies does your organization have in place to ensure all voices are heard, valued, and respected?

    And, could your workplace benefit from a tune-up?  Reach out to us today!

     

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  • Summer kids activities in full swing

    If you have kids in the Northeast or South Florida region, chances are one or more of them drummed with us this summer as part of their camp activities.  After all, what goes better together than summer camp and drum circles?

    Through a variety of funding sources, we were able to serve more than 3,700 children and youth through rhythm this summer.  And, that’s not counting all the parents, grandparents, and staff members who indirectly grooved along with us!  Some organizations who enjoyed the drumming fun included:

    • The YMCA’s of Duval, Clay, and Baker counties
    • The  Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida and Broward county
    • Communities in Schools of Jacksonville
    • The Cummer Museum
    • The Jacksonville Public Library
    • The Miami-Dade Public Library System
    • The Cities of Miramar and Pembroke Pines
    • Hope Haven
    • The Jacksonville Zoo

    Wondering what a summer drum circle entails?  Read on…

    Focus on cultural activities

    The Duval county YMCA’s had weekly cultural themes and our week was ancient Egypt.  This means we got to talk about the different types of instruments (including drums) the ancient Egyptians used.  Also, we talked about songs they sang, and compared them to the music we listen to and make today.

    Space, the final frontier

    The libraries’ summer reading theme this year was “A Universe of Stories.”  So, naturally we created rhythms around the planets in our solar system!  Additionally, we had a great time talking about our favorite books and stories, and even making up some of our own!

    Leadership and communication

    No drum circle would be complete without a chance for participants to practice their leadership skills and improve communication with each other.  We played games focusing on verbal and non-verbal communication, feelings/emotions, and passing the leadership from person to person.

    The fun doesn’t have to end with summer!  If you have an after-school or out of school program, we’d love to continue the fun and learning there!  Contact us to find out how to make the most of your experience!

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  • Team-building with Humana and River City Live

    Team-building with video cameras in your face is no easy feat, but the employees of Humana did it with grace – and a little bit of playfulness.  After all, they’re setting a wellness example to all their clients as a premier healthcare company.

    So why the video cameras?  Local Jacksonville TV show River City Live sent two co-hosts out to our session with Humana employees to learn all about drumming for wellness.  Hosts Rance Adams and Mark Payton joined in the fun and learned about some of the research behind drumming in a corporate environment.

    Team-building – what Humana learned

    As you might think, Humana employees were skeptical about the idea of drumming at their regular wellness Wednesday meeting, but quickly got into the swing of it.  How did we turn their attitudes around?

    • Keep it simple – we fail-proof our sessions by meeting people where they’re at and showing them they don’t have to be professional musicians to participate.
    • Give them plenty of chances to laugh – we build fun and playfulness into the sessions without getting too silly (no one wants to be embarrassed in front of their co-workers and supervisors).  The activities we integrate involve friendly interaction and imagination.
    • Divide and conquer – that’s right, sometimes during team-building events we split up the groups so they have a chance to interact in smaller groups.  This eases some of the performance anxiety that sometimes crops up, and gives people a chance to make one-on-one connections that extend beyond the drum circle.

    Takeaways from River City Live

    How did the co-hosts respond to the session?  Also, what stuck out to them that they might want to emphasize in the TV segment?

    • Research – during an interview, we talked about the research behind drumming in corporate settings.  A 2005 study found that drumming can reverse stress at a DNA level. Drumming isn’t just for the hippies and fire dancers; it’s found a place in corporate culture as a way to enhance wellness.
    • Culture – we also discussed my master’s research in West Africa in terms of the cultural differences – the way Africans and Americans participate in musical experiences.  This ‘hands-on’ nature of lots of kinds of West African music allows people to support each other on a deeper level.

    When we set aside our anxieties and concerns and momentarily allow ourselves to be immersed in a rhythmic experience, we’re better equipped to deal with our challenges.  Drumming invites us to attend to our needs while also encouraging us to listen to the needs of those around us.  In a corporate environment, that translates to better teamwork, higher emotional intelligence, and improved leadership and communication skills.

    Who can pass that up?

    To watch the full segment on River City Live, click here.

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