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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  • Corporate wellness programs – better health equals better bottom line

    Companies are turning to corporate wellness programs to improve their employees’ health as well as their own bottom line.  It’s a win-win situation, and the cycle feeds itself – when employees are healthy and happy, their productivity goes up, which means reducing turnover costs for the company, and potentially earning them more money.

    Corporate wellness research

    Edelman Intelligence did a meta-analysis of corporate studies in 2016.  As reported in Natural Awakenings’ January 2018 edition:  “corporate wellness programs are linked to a 25% reduction in absenteeism and sick leave, 25% reduction in health costs and 32% reduction in workers compensation and disability costs.”

    Some areas of focus in the study included:

    • mental and physical benefits of meditation
    • “digital detox” from everyday technologies, including a “Be Unplugged” optional program at the Quincy Hotel in Washington, D.C.
    • adult play and re-discovering your inner child
    • the concept of food as medicine
    • being well where you are, including things like hotel yoga classes and airport farmer’s markets

    You can read more about it here.

    Drumming to unplug and discover your inner child

    Corporate drum circles and rhythm-based events are now not only for team-building, but also encouraging personal wellness.  Drumming is a natural way to get people to unplug, because you can’t hold your phone while playing a drum (and you most certainly can’t talk on a phone over the joyful noise of the drumming).  Also, drumming provides such a mental workout that your brain naturally puts aside those anxious or scattered thoughts and to-do lists, and focuses on the task at hand (pun intended).

     

    Additionally, drumming is a great way to bring out your inner child.  Forget “adult coloring books;” drumming fosters creativity, problem-solving, collaboration, and stress reduction all in a single session.  Research shows that weekly or regular group empowerment drumming sessions provide these benefits in the long-term.  One study conducted by Remo HealthRHYTHMS(R) even concluded that regular sessions boosted immunity by increasing natural killer (NK) cell activity (just as they sound – cells able to bind to certain virus-infected cells and kill them).

    How implement it

    Companies can implement drumming programs in a variety of ways, including:

    • weekly stress reduction drumming sessions after work
    • daily or weekly lunchtime programs
    • monthly workshops focused on certain topics – reducing stress, improving communication, finding more joy and intent in daily life
    • one-time or regular team-building sessions for certain departments
    • one-time or multi-session change management workshops during a challenging transition
    • a workshop at a conference other large event

    Let’s get started!

    Whatever way you feel is best for your company’s employees and culture, we’ll help you implement it with ease and purpose.  Contact us for a free 15-minute consultation!

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  • Wrapping up a year of impact in South and North Florida

    WOW – what an impact-filled year!  Thanks to the more than 60 organizations who booked Just Add Rhythm in 2017, we were able to empower more than 4,000 people of all ages through rhythm! 

    Drumming with recovery populations

    This year we had the opportunity to provide therapeutic drumming programs to a recovery center in South Florida at their Hollywood and Fort Lauderdale sites.  Clients participated in weekly drumming sessions that focused on stress reduction, building and strengthening healthy relationships, and effective communication.  Some of their feedback included:

    • It “helped me get out of my comfort zone”
    • It “brings me happiness and peace”
    • It’s “great for my recovery”

    Drumming in after-school programs

    From South to North Florida, we drummed it up in the after-school programs.  Communities in Schools of Jacksonville is currently enjoying monthly and twice-monthly drumming programs at four of their elementary school sites.  One site coordinator remarked, “it’s another way [for students] to release energy and it teaches them to work together as a group.”  So, rhythm has a significant impact on teamwork!

    We also had the pleasure of providing weekly programs to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida‘s Butler Middle School after-school program.  Students learned about teamwork, collaboration, and communication with the evidence-based DRUMBEAT curriculum.

    Meanwhile in South Florida, we drummed with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Broward, the Broward Children’s Center, Smith Community Mental Health Center, After-School Programs of Broward, and more.

    Both students and staff enjoy the hands-on aspect of playing the drums and creating their own rhythms!

    Drumming for community impact

    Many organizations strengthened their communities by adding rhythm to their events, including:

    I’m confident we can help your company or organization strengthen its connections to one another through rhythm.  Please reach out to us and find out how!

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