Recent Events & Articles (Our blog)


  • Team-Building: Leadership Jax Opening Retreat in St. Augustine, FL

    On August 18th, 2017, members of the Leadership Jax class of 2018 got a fun surprise at their opening retreat at World Golf Village in St. Augustine – a drum circle!  Since they had just spent the day getting to know one another, a team-building drum circle was just the thing to solidify connections.  Our 5-step process took them through some energizing drum rolls, a relaxing warm-up, a listening and communication activity, drum jam, and an activity to strengthen bonding.

    According to their website,  “Leadership Jacksonville educates, connects, and inspires diverse leaders to build and strengthen their communities.”  Since connection, diversity, and creativity are the cornerstones of Just Add Rhythm’s events, this was an ideal blending of organizational values.

    Activities included:

    • Give a Little, playing one’s neighbor’s drum and injecting upbeat energy into the group (short video here!)
    • Drum jam where participants made up their own rhythms and led the group using volume cues (short video here!)
    • Number Walk, which encouraged participants to think on their feet and adapt quickly to change (short video here!)

    Participants shared that the event helped them to relax and connect, and they also drew parallels between the Number Walk activity and examples of adapting to change in work-related and personal experiences.  Plus, they had tons of fun – just look at those smiles!

    Photo credit:  Steve Ramcharitar

    Interested in adding some rhythm to your team’s next event?

    « 2 of 5 »

     

     

  • How to break the ice with rhythm – and look cool doing it

    100_0607.jpg resizedIcebreakers.  Does the word make you cringe?  Does it conjure up any flashbacks of weird requests from conference leaders or workshop trainers that made participants feel awkward or embarrassed?  Maybe they were actually fun but had nothing to do with the topic of the actual training.  Here’s something you might not know:  rhythm can make a great icebreaker.  Read on and I’ll tell you how it works and why it’s successful – and why so many companies are choosing to include drumming in their trainings and conferences.

    Why drums?

    As a drum circle facilitator, I’ve honed my skills in order to offer programs that will begin by breaking the ice and allow people to feel comfortable together.  Interactive rhythm itself is a great icebreaker, because it puts everyone on an equal footing – no competition! (read this post about what happens when competition takes over team building)  With a drum in your hands, you automatically have permission to fidget, tap, and make noise.  If the facilitator does a good job, people will feel less anxious and will see themselves as part of a supportive group.  But, if the facilitator could use some improvement, participants will end up feeling overwhelmed and not rhythmically skilled enough to “keep up.”  Let’s look at a few ways in which drumming can help break the ice within a group of professionals whose idea of cutting loose is probably Casual Friday.

    How it works

    Here are some ways a skilled facilitator can break the ice (at a training, conference, or other company gathering) successfully:

    1. Allow participants to find a drum that appeals to them and explore sounds on their own, and wait for a common rhythm to emerge from the group.  This encourages participants to establish their own boundaries before the facilitator even needs to speak a word.
    2. Offer a short, easy to replicate rhythm that can be spoken and played (called by skilled facilitator Jim Donovan a ‘rhythm seed,’ such as saying and playing “play that drum” over and over).  Short, familiar patterns can help ease performance anxiety by letting participants know that no musical experience is necessary to enjoy and benefit from drumming.
    3. Invite the group to “rumble” on their instruments, effectively creating a drum roll that can increase the energy, excitement and camaraderie among the group. Even with the most rhythm-challenged group, we can still create cohesiveness through rumbling.  Rumbling requires no ability to keep a steady beat – and it always brings out lots of smiles!

    When the pressure to perform is OFF, participants can start to make connections with one another, which will then carry over into the workplace, conference, or training.

    Why companies are getting on board

    A number of Fortune 500 companies are choosing drumming for their team building programs and conference icebreakers, as well as company wellness programs.  Corporations are becoming aware of the fact that if they invest in their individual employees’ physical and mental well-being, they will experience less employee turnover and lose less money in the constant hiring and training of new employees.  Plus, those employees will be better equipped to do their jobs.  Drumming has been demonstrated to improve communication, encourage teamwork and group support, offer outlets for stress, and provide tools for maintaining mental health.

    A great icebreaker is one that a) makes people smile and laugh, and b) encourages connection and creativity among participants.  Interactive drumming ticks off all those boxes, and plus – who doesn’t want to bang on a drum?

    Contact Just Add Rhythm for drum circle based team building in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Jacksonville.

  • Let’s stop being ‘anti-bully’ and start being ‘pro-kindness’ – a lesson we can learn at any age

    music-304757_150A lot of people think my chosen field is new age-y.  Some think I’m a child care professional or a drum teacher.  When asked what I do and I explain that I ‘provide specialized interactive rhythm and music programs for all ages and abilities,’ the person usually responds with some form of, “well, we already have a music teacher” or “cool, I used to play percussion in marching band.”  Today let’s talk about what interactive rhythm and music programs have to offer besides generic music skills – namely, anti-bullying and pro-kindness skills:  no matter if you’re 5 or 95.  People will always need to improve their people skills at every stage of development, and rhythm is a totally accessible method for doing it.

    I talk a lot about when I was a child.  There are two reasons for this.  The first is that I had a pretty great childhood and I’m passionate about creating opportunities for today’s children to have some great and memorable experiences.  The second reason is because I was bullied, and it has affected my adult personality in ways I’m only beginning to realize.  Oh, you say that bullying doesn’t exist in your school, your company, your family, your organization?  Well, even if it’s not outright bullying with a capital “B,” I’ll tell you that at the very least, there is room for improvement in communications.

    The self-confidence crisis in schools

    cyber-bullying-122156_150When we mention “bullying,” the first thought is usually what happens in schools – ‘mean girls’ singling each other out, rough-looking boys beating kids up for lunch money, and the alarming statistics on teen suicide and school tragedies.  Yep, this is where it starts.  Kids are impressionable.  The same goes for their impressions of how to treat people.  Kids look at their teachers, parents, grandparents, friends, and imaginary TV pals to subconsciously determine how to act toward each other.  An unkind word from a classmate can have some pretty nasty effects if the responsible adults don’t or can’t act properly.  My bullies were my friends until middle school turned them into antagonizers (or silent by-standers); my loving and supportive parents weren’t able to protect me from the nasty words at school.  My well-meaning principal had no protocol in particular to follow. My self-confidence, never having wavered much before, was at an all-time low.

    The communication crisis in the workplace

    angry-46375_150I once worked for an organization (which remains anonymous) that had a dramatic blow-up in accounting.  A co-worker and a supervisor got into a heated argument and yelled at each other in the office, resulting in the firing of the irate employee, and also resulting in dramatic whispers about the incident by the rest of the employees – who loved their juicy gossip, I must say.

    Where was the communication in this scenario?  Was either employee making an effort to be an empathetic listener, and were any of the bystanders doing anything to improve communication?  These days, many people are experiencing a disconnect, feeling as if they are anonymous or aren’t being heard.  If you’ve never worked for a large company, watch the movie Office Space or an episode of Better Off Ted to get a dose of the communication disconnect. Corporate employees and medical care professionals especially experience the feeling that they don’t matter enough to their employers.  As a result, stress is high, tempers become short, and turnover happens at a rate that costs these companies money each year in new hire and training costs.

    A shift in mentality

    arrow resizedThrough my company Just Add Rhythm, I often talk about making a simple shift in individual and group mentality.  The shift can be as small as deciding to go for a walk twice a week, or as large as a company exploring new options for creating a more healthy environment for its employees.  By implementing these shifts on both a small and a large scale, our consciousness as a culture has the ability to improve drastically.  We shift our focus to ‘pro-kindness’ and ‘pro-respect.’

    The kid who was bullied in school doesn’t have to grow up to fit into the movie stereotype “recluse” or “resident nerd.”  The kid who did the bullying in school also doesn’t have to fit into a stereotype of office jerk.  Our shift in mentality requires a safe and respectful environment and open communication at all stages of development – from the classroom, to the university, to the workplace, even to the yoga studio or the local Target.

    Self- and group-empowerment

    exchange-of-ideas-222787_150I recently read a great post on LinkedIn about workplace archetypes.  The author made a point that it always seems that the person in charge of approving a big project or decision is “difficult” to work with in some way.  He also made the point that most of the employees know this but choose not to take action until the very last moment before a project is approved.  Why not take actions to prevent last-minute stressful decisions by having the necessary conversations in the beginning of the process?  Because most of us want to avoid conflict, and we hope it will magically go away if we don’t bring it up.

    Imagine if all company cultures were such that employees were encouraged to voice their opinions before the very last step of a project.  What if you, the employee, knew that in voicing a legitimate concern, you had the support of your colleagues and the ear of your supervisor every time?  Would you take the initiative more often?

    In my opinion, this is a culturally systemic issue that begins in childhood.  Whatever you believe in the nature vs. nurture debate, we are all to some extent shaped by our childhood experiences.  When we get angry or defensive about something, there is usually some underlying memory or trigger that floats up and determines our reaction.

    If we address the issue like a disease for which there is a vaccine, we can both treat the symptoms and the underlying cause.  Initiate conscious programming in schools that doesn’t just teach to the test but teaches to the experience.  This is the pro-kindness vaccine, the inoculation that will help prevent (not necessarily eradicate!  We are human, after all) an epidemic in adulthood.  For the symptoms that are occurring right now, we arm ourselves with resources for compassion and respect – the wellness consultants, the health initiatives, the team-building workshops, the communication seminars – and the drum circle facilitators.

    It’s amazing what a drum can do

    park-25667_150At Just Add Rhythm, we treat the symptoms and the underlying cause.  We treat the symptoms that are already present in this generation as a result of lack of systemic respect, and we treat the underlying cause starting with the next generation. We arm ourselves with drums and go into the schools, the community centers, the businesses, the conferences, the after-school programs, the summer camps, the hospitals, and everywhere else we’re needed.  My colleagues worldwide do the same, with unwavering belief in the power of rhythm.  Their stories range from being beaned in the head by a child with anger issues (and receiving an apology and a request to join the group), to watching a couple dance at a Holocaust Survivor’s event, to seeing an Alzheimer’s patient’s eyes light up with recognition during the playing of a particular song.  My colleagues surprise employees of Fortune 500 companies at conferences with hundreds of drums and a morning filled with infectious rhythm rather than speeches.  My colleagues return to at-risk youth and detention centers week after week to provide a safe and stable environment for participants to vent frustrations.  They treat the symptoms and the cause, one drum vaccine at a time.

    It’s inspiring what you can do!

    Each choice lies with you.  My objective is to empower each of you – so that you can make the shifts you need to live a healthier and happier life.  I love sharing with you what I’ve learned on my own journey, and hearing from you about yours.  Get started by following me or Just Add Rhythm on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+, or visiting us at www.justaddrhythmnow.com.  Or, contact me at alisha@justaddrhythmnow.com.  If I can’t come to you, I’ll help you find someone who can!

close
Facebook IconYouTube IconTwitter IconFollow us on Google+Follow us on Google+