Recent Events & Articles (Our blog)

  • Community Drum Circle at Greenscape of Jacksonville’s Tree Festival

    What better way to close out the first annual Tree Festival in Metropolitan Park of downtown Jacksonville than a big drum circle?  Festival attendees received free trees to plant while learning about the importance of trees in city planning, home value, and decreasing their utility bills.

    We provided a community drum circle to end the festival on a high note.  Both children and adults had a blast honing their playing skills while learning how drumming can encourage team-building and enhance overall wellness.  Participants had the chance to lead the group in the “wave” (drumming-style) as well as volume cues.  We ended the drum circle by playing a game that illustrates how when each person contributes just one beat to a rhythm, we can make magical music together!

    We love helping you bring awareness to your festival or event through rhythm!  If you’ve got a community or private event coming up that you’d like to add a little rhythm to, contact us!

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  • 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.

  • A Simple Shift for National Stress Awareness Month

    hustle-and-bustle-73400_150“Hectic,” “whirlwind,” “consumed,” “crazy,” “hard to keep up with it all,” “on the run,” “way too fast” – do any of these accurately describe how your life feels lately?  In her book Overwhelmed:  Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time, Brigid Schulte interviews Ann Burnett, who since the 1960s has been chronicling how people describe their lives through holiday letters.  The above descriptions have all become increasingly popular.  After reading this article by Hanna Rosin, I decided to think about how the people in my world handle stress, and see what we can be doing more (or less) of.  Whether you’re a parent, a full-time employee, a student, a coach, or a ‘do-it-all-er’ (all the above), in these paragraphs you will find an attitude with which to approach your tasks that is perhaps so simple you haven’t thought of it before.

    The stress response

    We are all aware of nature’s “fight or flight” stress response in animals, and that we as humans also possess.  Reactions to a fight or flight situation can include heart rate acceleration, flushing or paling of the complexion, constricting of blood vessels, and shaking.  But are all stress responses created equal?  I’ve had these physical reactions occur before a simple audition as well as just before receiving some very bad news.  The key lies in recognizing the response and in how you control it.  A little bit of stress here and there can be a helpful thing that can propel you forward in your career, convince you that you’re ready to make a big commitment, or motivate you to complete that marathon.  But it’s the way in which we handle stress long-term that can affect our health positively or adversely.

    Stress-related health complaints

    WebMD claims that “stress can play a part in problems such as headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression, and anxiety.” We’ve all probably experienced a tension headache or difficulty breathing at one time another as a result of pressure.  While there is no clear scientific connection between stress and ulcers, nervousness is certainly a contributing factor in many upset stomachs.

    A simple shift

    madeira-103270_640Let’s go back to the Hanna Rosin article.  Her solution is to make a simple shift in the way you approach your daily tasks.  The shift is to stop telling yourself you’re too busy, and simply accomplish what you need to.  Then, ask yourself what’s totally necessary and where you can replace “crappy bits of leisure time confetti” (Schulte’s words) with real, quality relaxation time.  There are many ways to do this, but since I’m a musician and facilitator, I’m inclined to tout the benefits of music.  Relaxation is not just about fitting something into your day, like playing your latest iPhone game; it’s about adding up those bits of confetti and turning them into something with long-term benefits – like exploring rhythm at your local wellness or rec center (because most towns these days have at least one or two drumming enthusiasts who teach classes or offer community circles).  A few paragraphs ago I promised to evaluate how the people in my world handle stress, because I can’t vouch for it if I haven’t seen it in action.  My community in South Florida fortunately has many options for stress relief through rhythm, including women’s wellness centers, sound healing circles, open drum circles, culture-specific drum and dance classes, and much more.  My own facilitated events have included one-time sessions for culture-, age-, and gender-specific groups, as well as repeating sessions for children and special populations.  The other day, I facilitated a teen girls’ school drum circle at which many of them began an “I hate math” chant in time to the rhythm – their own version of stress relief.  At another event I observed an adult participant who was at first shy to join in eventually pick up and try every instrument that was at his disposal, even experimenting in ways I’d never thought to try!  If we can find the time to be as playful in our busy adult lives as most of us were in our childhoods, there’s no telling what we can accomplish in the future of our human race.

    An invitation for you

    This month during stress awareness month, I invite you to critically examine your schedule and identify at least 3 hours (separate or consecutive) of uninterrupted time in which to devote to your well-being.  Check your city’s web page for rhythm and music events, plan an unplugged afternoon, or try a new activity.  Not only will it be fun and relaxing, it will also contribute to being your best you in the future, if you keep it up.  And trust me – go bang on a drum.


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