Recent Events & Articles (Our blog)


  • 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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  • Team-building fun with non-profit Angelwood Jax!

    Team-building and wellness – these are the top two objectives Just Add Rhythm focuses on whenever we facilitate a rhythm event.

    So the employees of Angelwood, a Jacksonville-based non-profit, were in for a treat.  They experienced an hour of connection, stress management, and teamwork during their staff training day.

    Angelwood “assists families in caring for the special needs of their loved ones through a variety of programs suited to each person’s individual goals.”  They offer residential- and community-based programs to help each person live his or her best life.

    That’s why I felt a strong connection to their mission and vision. We’re all about helping people live their best lives!

    Check out the pictures below and watch the video clip of one of the energy-charged activities on our YouTube channel!

    The process

    Just Add Rhythm has a 5-step process to ensure we’re helping our clients reach their objectives through rhythm:

    1. Drumroll – smiles & laughter
    2. Relax & refresh – wellness exercises and stretching
    3. Chatter – learning to communicate & listen using drums
    4. Drum jam – create some groovy beats together!
    5. Creating connections – rhythmic games & partner convos to solidify concepts

    Highlights

    Participants commented after the workshop what they took away from it, including:

    • “It’s important to breathe”
    • “People working together can sound as one”
    • “It is remarkable what a strong leader can do even with people who are very different”

    Putting it into action

    At the end of each team-building session, I invite participants to partner up and discuss what they learned, and how they will apply it to their work and/or personal lives.  And that is always my challenge to the group – take action!  Empower yourself to be compassionate, to listen deeply to others, to take care of yourself, and to listen to yourself.

    We’d love to drum with your group!  Reach out to us for a brief consult!

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  • This St. Patrick’s Day, pick up a drum instead of a green beer

    It’s St. Patty’s Day again – time for shamrocks, the luck o’ the Irish, and a sudden interest in Celtic music and drumming.  But this year, instead of picking up a green beer and toasting your health, why not try picking up a drum instead?  You don’t have to know how to play the Irish bodhran to experience the health benefits of drums.

    Here are a few reasons to drum for your health this year.

    Unlike green beer, drums can help banish bloating

    Listen, who hasn’t experienced the occasional digestive issue?  But I’m talking stress-related issues here – those tummy problems that arise when you’re under lots of stress and experiencing anxiety.

    Drumming can play a big part in helping the mind and body to relax, which can reduce those pesky digestive issues.  When you’re stressed, that stomachache gets worse, right?  Well, when you’re relaxed, the opposite happens – the pain subsides.  Drumming focuses your mental energy and invites you to stay in the moment, forgetting the stress – and being able to better handle it later on.

    Take it from someone with lifelong digestive issues – you will banish that stress bloat!

    No luck needed – it’s science!

    You don’t need the luck o’ the Irish to get healthy.  You simply need to incorporate rhythm into your daily life on a personal level.  Take a look at this study on the health-related effects of stress, and how drumming helps combat them – stress plays a role in cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes and more.

    Adding rhythm to your daily life adds more presence and mindfulness, which better equips us to deal with life’s challenges.  Drum on your steering wheel on the way to work, dance around to your favorite song while preparing dinner, or try this simple rhythmic breathing exercise before bed.

    Surround yourself with a supportive community

    Sure, you can find community in a bar on St. Patty’s Day, but you can also find it when a group of people share a common interest, like drumming.  As more and more research emerges about the links between social isolation and depression, it becomes increasingly important to offer more easy opportunities for people to make connections.

    Drumming is the rock star of community and togetherness – creating rhythms as a group encourages people to support each other and work toward an aesthetically pleasing musical outcome.

     

    In other words…

    Pick up a drum for your health today.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a bodhran, an infamous bongo (that name that many people like to call all drums), or just you and your steering wheel in the car (no, it doesn’t have to be this crazy!).  Your body will thank you.

    Join us for our upcoming live workshops to experience the drumming fun for yourself!  Group discounts are available!

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