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Recent Events & Articles (Our blog)


  • 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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  • What I learned about community at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention

    Last month, I had the opportunity to attend the Percussive Arts Society International Convention (or PASIC) in Indiana.  I presented a workshop on how my study of the drum and dance community in West Africa informed my facilitation style.  Later, I also got to speak on a panel of facilitators about our experience using rhythm as a powerful and adaptable tool.

    As you might expect, I got the chance to meet many knowledgeable people from all over the world – professional musicians, skilled facilitators, educators, students, and simply rhythm enthusiasts.  I attended a variety of sessions hosted by the Interactive Drumming Committee that focused on using rhythm in educational and community settings. 

    The sessions I attended included:

    • A presentation on a facilitator who drums with youth with disabilities within the public schools in his hometown
    • A “melodic conversation” workshop on marimba improv by one of Just Add Rhythm’s facilitators, Brandon Cruz (who runs the South Florida Center for Percussive Arts)
    • An experiential learning workshop focusing on techniques for working with senior adults
    • An interactive presentation on how to use Boomwhackers (once thought to be just for kids) in corporate team-building sessions
    • Several late-night drum circle jam sessions where people got to jump in and facilitate on the fly

    Throughout these sessions, there were a few common themes and takeaways.  Here are some of the most profound messages it would help us all to remember.

    Adapt to the needs of the community or group

    A lot of sessions focused on adapting techniques and exercises for people in certain populations.  How can we take something that works well with children and adapt it to meet the needs of corporate employees?  What skills do drummers have that they can apply to their work with non-musicians?  As facilitators, our number one job is to meet our clients where they are and address their specific needs or problem.  No matter what field you’re in, this is a helpful reminder for all of us – how can we best be of service?

    Encourage, Encourage, Encourage

    Since it was my first time attending the conference, I was a bit nervous to present.  I felt much less experienced than some of the more seasoned facilitators and attendees who seemed to all know each other from the conference every year.  But that didn’t stop anyone from encouraging me.  They came to help me set up for my workshop (and the workshops and presentations of others); they supported students who attended sessions and seemed a little shy; they helped create an inclusive environment at each session to ensure no one felt left out.  This is a community I am proud to be a part of.

    Lead with integrity

    Finally, one of the most profound themes of my experience at the conference was integrity.  Everyone who presented, spoke, and shared their knowledge, particularly within the Interactive Drumming Committee’s sessions, had it in spades.  They were trustworthy, honest, authentic, positive, upbeat, and always in service mode.  These people are role models to the conference newbies like me, and even to the next generation of students younger than me who will be entering the workforce soon.  Above all, they were always willing to share their experience and expertise to the benefit of others. 

    When it was time to come back home I was a bit disappointed.  I had spent 5 days in the “rhythm bubble” with people who really got the awesome gift that is percussion.  I remembered it was our responsibility to continue to be positive role models in our respective communities, always being of service, encouraging, and leading with integrity.  If I do this, I will always be close to my rhythm community.

    Alisha Ramcharitar, owner of Just Add Rhythm, and Greg Whitt, owner of Drum for Change, facilitate a flash jam for passersby between sessions at PASIC 2018 in Indianapolis.

     

     

     

     

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  • A stress reduction icebreaker for the Bridge to Business event

    You have to give a presentation in a half hour that highlights your business, your value proposition, and everything you’ve been working toward.  Judges from local companies will be evaluating your pitch and deciding if they’d like to do business with you.  So how are you feeling?  Need a little stress reduction?

    If you answered stressed or anxious, you’d be in good company.  On November 13th, about 60 small businesses and entrepreneurs in the Jax Chamber’s Jax Bridges program had the opportunity to pitch – and many of them were a ball of nerves.

    So what did we do?  Well, a drum circle, of course!  Just Add Rhythm brought the drums to shake out the nerves and get people feeling relaxed and confident in their ability.  Want some stress reduction before your next big event?  Here are some benefits the participants experienced:

    Stress reduction

    Well, duh – that was the main goal!  But why was it effective?  Because it got the participants out of their heads and into their bodies.  When you’re playing a drum, you need to be fully present and in the moment – no looking at your phone or glancing at your note cards one more time.  You focus on the task at hand and keep the beat with those around you.  This usually helps distract participants from their nerves.

    Empathy

    Speaking of distraction, when we start looking around us and matching our beats with that of others, we start to listen more deeply to the sound being created.  Then we start to figure out what others need from us – what we have to contribute to the sound of the whole group.  This helps a lot with the stress reduction as a result.

    Physical activity

    Lastly, we knew we’d be sitting down listening to everyone’s pitches for a good two or more hours.  Wouldn’t it be nice to get in some movement before then?  To warm up our bodies, feel comfortable in our skin, and practice our confident postures?

    By the time the pitches began, everyone was more calm, cool and collected.  Half of us went in one room to pitch to half the judges, the other half in the other room.  In my room, right before we began, someone asked if I could play my drum again to help calm the nerves.  We laughed, we cheered for each other, and we all went up and crushed it.

    Is your group or team doing a presentation and would like some help quelling the nerves before the big event?  Contact us to talk about a stress reduction icebreaker!

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