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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  • 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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  • An Afternoon of Teamwork and Energizing Activities at the Mayo Clinic

    An Afternoon of Teamwork and Energizing Activities at the Mayo Clinic

    We love to work with professionals on teambuilding and teamwork activities. On November 10th, we drummed at the Humanities in Medicine Symposium event hosted by the Mayo Clinic. The aim of this symposium was to showcase:

    • The impact of arts and humanities programs on patient outcomes and quality of care
    • Innovative and unique arts in healthcare programs in the context of academic research
    • The role of the arts and humanities in medical education core competencies and wellness of healthcare practitioner

    The drumming session was a post-lunch energizer that focused on fun teamwork activities.  We also highlighted some of the themes of the day and what people were taking away from all the sessions they had attended.  During the event, we were able to tackle quite a few of our favorite drumming and teamwork activities including….

    Drum Jam Teamwork Activity

    We had a drum jam where we played the rhythm of our heartbeats. We also created rhythms about key takeaways the attendees got from their earlier morning sessions. One attendee mentioned the importance of reflecting on and sharing one’s unique story. 

    Rumble Ball Teamwork Activity

    Next we played a rhythm game called Rumble Ball to demonstrate the accessibility of rhythm to all ages and populations.  The facilitator throws a ball in the air and while it’s airborne, everyone rumbles on their drums.  When the facilitator catches it, everyone stops.  With a high ceiling, you can throw really high and get some energetic rumbles.  Participants took turns being the leader and creating rhythm patterns with the starts and stops of the rumbles. 

    Rhythmic Breathing

     Finally we ended with a relaxing rhythmic breathing exercise, one of our favorites to share.  It encourages participants to align their breathing with a gentle but rapid tapping on their laps to take deep, mindful breaths.  It slows the heart rate and helps relax and re-energize.

    Outcomes of the Teamwork Activities

    One person commented they felt “comfortable but energized” at the end of the exercise.  Another person commented, “what was most powerful was that the session allowed collective energy coming together and also autonomy.”  This is our aim with rhythm experiences – participants discover their connection with others around them while also empowering themselves to discover the rhythm within!

     

    How can we add rhythm to energize your conference or event? We would love to partner with you. Contact Us Today!   You can learn more about the Mayo Clinic in Florida HERE and to learn more about the symposium you can click HERE

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