“Back to normal” summer drumming – lessons learned

This summer was Just Add Rhythm’s first big foray “back to normal” with drumming programs. Up until then, we’d offered only a handful of in-person drumming programs since the pandemic – most of our programs were online.

This summer, we were able to serve more than 2,000 children and youth through our in-person and virtual summer camp programs!

It felt a bit like a post-apocolyptic world.

Drums were sanitized before and after each session. Staff reminded participants to keep masks on over nose and mouth – sometimes as frequently as every 5 minutes. Programs were rescheduled due to positive COVID cases at various organizations, forcing CDC-mandated closures.

But, through it all, we had the same basic experience we have with camps every summer – kids got to drum together, work together, and support each other. And boy did we still have FUN!

Read on for a few key lessons I learned while facilitating a busy drum-filled summer this year.

The kiddos are resilient

Kids are surprisingly adaptable and sometimes we don’t give them enough credit. Most kids were happy to wear their masks while drumming together – even if they weren’t required to wear them throughout the camp day.

While wearing masks, we could still detect smiles, hear laughs, and be silly together.

No one seemed to be worse off for wearing their mask for an hour. It was even kind of fun to see each child assert their individuality with a mask design that suited them.

The staff doubled their efforts with a smile

Almost every staff member at each site we visited had more work to do to enforce health and safety rules – and their attitudes were inspiring.

One site spent countless amounts of time at a hand pump sink installed outside the building to ensure kids were washing hands upon entering from outside play.

Most sites distributed masks to campers who had none (sometimes repeatedly) with a smile.

Many sites offered youth staff as drum helpers, who enthusiastically helped us unload, set up, and disinfect equipment before, between, and after sessions.

The drumming felt the same

I was a bit concerned that the drum circle would feel different to me and to the campers because of all the health and safety restrictions. But, from the first day until our final session, it felt just like it always has – high energy and inspiring!

The kiddos encouraged each other, took turns, happily led their group, and absorbed the lessons and themes with enthusiasm.


We can learn a lot about resilience and adaptability from kids. It makes my heart happy to know that we were able to both impact and learn from them during such a roller coaster of a summer this year.


Want to learn more about how group rhythm can impact your organization? Reach out to us!

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On the anniversary of George Floyd’s death, here are some resources for you

As we approach the one-year anniversary of the death of George Floyd, which sparked a firestorm of racial injustice protests across the U.S., I want to take a moment.

A moment to reflect on what that event meant for our country, and for the changes in legislation and police reform we’ve seen since then.

I also want to reaffirm Just Add Rhythm’s commitment to furthering diversity, equality, and inclusion, as we put forth in our inclusion statement several months ago.

Lastly, I want to recommit myself to continuing to listen and learn, as a person who comes from a privileged background.

I commit to listening to my friends, acquaintances, colleagues, and neighbors of color who share their experiences and viewpoints with me.

I commit to doing the work of educating myself on issues of racial justice, including legislation, police reform, and mental health reform, for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color).

I’ve compiled some resources below. I invite you to use them for your own education, and for use in your school, company, or organization. Start conversations, share, donate, volunteer!

The George Floyd Memorial Center

George Floyd’s family members and friends started the GFMC to promote “trust, dignity, and respect” for Black Americans, and to provide educational opportunities for a variety of populations.

Right now, they are promoting awareness around what they call the “Day of Enlightenment” (DOE), the date of Floyd’s death. You can buy apparel that can help initiate conversations around racial justice and police reform.

They also have a scholarship fund, and they’re developing a series of online courses that seem geared toward Black youth – the first one educating on police stops, safe and appropriate behavior, and knowing their rights.

In addition, you can donate, sponsor, or volunteer.

The BIPOC Project

The BIPOC Project “aims to build authentic and lasting solidarity among Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), in order to undo Native invisibility, anti-Blackness, dismantle white supremacy and advance racial justice.”

At first glance, it was hard for me to tell if the resources were mostly aimed toward BIPOC, or for anyone wanting to educate themselves further.  But as you scroll you’ll see they offer training workshops, including some for “organizations looking to establish and run effective BIPOC affinity groups and caucuses as part of larger organizational initiatives to create multicultural anti-racist organizations.”

So, if your company wants to take its DEI initiatives to the next level and have those tough conversations, this may be the training experience for you.

NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness)

I need to include this resource because May is also both Mental Health Month and Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month.

Read NAMI’s inspiring resolution on denouncing racism and pore through the vast amounts of educational and practical literature compiled here.

We can be a resource for you!

Lastly, I invite you to use Just Add Rhythm as a resource for your organization, company, or school. I always say that a drum circle is the quintessential inclusive experience – in the circle, everyone is equal, everyone is listened to and respected, and we always keep an open mind and heart.

Research actually shows that drumming- and rhythm-based group programs can offer benefits that go beyond individual experience and tap into a group mentality.

We hope you’ll think of us as you’re planning your next conference, training workshop, or summer event!

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What the COVID vaccine means for Just Add Rhythm

The COVID vaccine has become a sort of status symbol on social media. I’ve seen friends on Facebook showing off their little white vaccine cards and sharing stories of emotions running high at vaccine clinics.
On March 29th, I received my first Moderna vaccine and felt the tears pricking at my eyes in the middle of the grocery store pharmacy. The process itself was underwhelming but the implications were huge.
After more than a year in relative isolation, I can safely begin to get back to work. WE can safely get back to work.
As a person who’s considered “high risk” for COVID complications, I’ve been extremely cautious this past year about where I go and who I interact with. Add into the mix a family and a little guy who’s still nursing, and most of my human interaction this past year has been on Zoom.

What does being vaccinated mean for myself and for my business?

  • No more fear going into assisted living senior communities. I LOVE working with senior citizens at all levels of care, but the fear that I could unknowingly infect or be infected was real.  Now most of the communities I work in have been vaccinated, and so have I.
  • I can begin to fully plan for our summer programming.  Summer is Just Add Rhythm’s big season; we work with dozens – sometimes hundreds – of summer camps, non-profits, libraries, and other community youth programs each year, serving thousands of children and youth every summer. Last year, 90% of our summer programs were virtual, and we only did about a third of the business we typically do in a summer season.
  • I don’t have to hesitate when I get the opportunity to present at in-person conferences and events. I can protect and be protected!
  • Companies are starting to return to the office – we can once again safely offer in-person workplace wellness trainings and team-building programs (while still having the option to pursue virtual or hybrid options as our clients prefer).
  • I have confidence knowing I am helping to keep my family safe from COVID, no matter where my business takes me.

Here’s what you can expect from Just Add Rhythm now that we’re ready to be fully back in business!

  • The same level of increased disinfecting protocols we’ve used since the beginning of COVID (disinfecting instruments and equipment before and after every program, and in between multiple sessions)
  • Continued use of masks and gloves as needed, and continued compliance with your organization’s health and safety procedures and requirements, including temperature checks and frequent hand washing/sanitizing
  • More flexibility to serve your group as is appropriate for YOU – we can increase or decrease group size as needed, work with you to find a hybrid option, safely drum at your facility, and offer more flexibility in scheduling options
  • A return to engaging, energized in-person drumming sessions that highlight hope, possibility, and FUN!

We thank you for continuing to support us throughout this challenging year, and wish you continued health and wellness during this transition period back to a sense of normalcy.

I hope that when your organization is ready to begin scheduling in-person events this year, you will keep Just Add Rhythm in mind to offer you the unforgettable and impactful rhythm experiences you have come to expect from us.

Ready to book an in-person or virtual rhythm experience? Contact us to get started!

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