Kalani discusses the 2012 American Music Therapy Association National Conference and the role of the Music Therapy Drumming Institute in helping music therapists gain more facility in world drumming. Other topics include ProRhythms – music supported health and wellness practices, and Developmental Community Music Leadership training with a new drum circle facilitation certification track. Kalani will discuss and play the new ProRhythms tongue drum from Hardwood Music Company along with the A minor HAPI drum and the Native American Flute in A.
The popular DVD set, Drum Fun! – Musical Games for Groups, is now available for the iPad.
The iBook includes written instructions for presenting each game and includes video so you can see the games being played by a group of participants.
Now available on the iTunes bookstore for the very low price of $12.99!
View on Apple.com
The Drum Fun! iBook contains all the same activities as the 2-DVD set and features Modifications, Extensions, and Notes for each game. You also get Presentation Tips and Notes for Music Educators, Music Therapists, and Community Music Facilitators. Search the iTunes store for “Drum Fun!” Watch samples of the DVD here.
The iBook version is perfect for anyone who wants to add to their drum circles, musical parties, corporate team building events, socializers and energizers for meetings and gatherings, and any occasion where the main goal is to create musical experiences that bring people together in a fun and social way.
- Rumble Ball
- Flocks in Socks
- Number Walk
- I Am the Drum!
- Sound Toss
- Drum Stories
- Sound Compass
- Day at the Museum
- Where’s Froggy?
- Let’s All ____!
- Music Pads
- Let’s All Play!
- Drum Call
- Pieces of Eight
- Rhythm Canon
- Let’s All Move!
- Ships in the Night
- Four on the Floor
- Musical Mystery
There are many different types of community drumming! Some of these will likely be familiar, such as traditional drumming or drum circles. Others, such as guided interactive drumming and clinical improvisation might be new to some. If you are a music educator, music therapist, or recreational music facilitator or guide (such as a Developmental Community Music leader or drum circle facilitator), this podcast will be of great interest to you!
If you’re not as familiar with group drumming and some of the terminology that is used within the genre, listen and learn! If you have any questions about anything in this podcast, leave a comment, but also email email through this site, as I don’t always see all the comments and may not answer your question soon after it is posted.
Click above to learn about them all. This podcast is also available on iTunes as a download and subscription. Listen on your smartphone or media player and subscribe to automatically receive the latest episodes.
We’re pleased to announce that the DRUM FUN! – Musical Games for Groups, 2-DVD set is now shipping via Amazon.com!
This set features over 25 music-based activities that anyone can present. Perfect for groups of all kinds.
Purchase it on AMAZON
International customers will be able to purchase through Amazon as well, making this title available anywhere in the world!
Who should have this DVD?
- Music Teachers
- Music Therapists
- Recreational Music Facilitators
- Trainers and Coaches
- Camp Staff
- Boys & Girls Club Staff
- Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts Leaders
- Anyone who presents experiences for groups!
Do I have to be a musician to use this?
Absolutely not! These experiences are ‘musical,’ but no instrumental skill is needed to use them. Anyone with a little rhythm and a passion for people can do a great job.
Is this a Drum Circle video?
No. These are musical games that have specific instructions and rules. A drum circle is an improvised jam session, but you can always throw in a few games within a community drumming experience, whether that experience is a drum circle, music class, performance group, or any other form of community music making.
What is shown?
The full process for presenting each activity. Kalani starts with the basic set up and instructions, then you see the game/activity unfolding in a natural way. Most segments are between 3 and 7 minutes.
What regions is this for?
This product is coded for All regions.
Can I see some samples?
Yes! CLICK HERE
Kalani discusses how basic life rhythms relate to several aspects of health and how those rhythms align with and relate to musical experiences. You’ll learn about the different rhythms of the body and get some ideas as to how to structure musical experiences to support and facilitate positive physical and emotional changes that lead to greater health for groups. You’ll also learn how to use ‘the rhythms of life’ to support your own health goals.
Rhythms are part of every-day living and many of the body’s natural rhythms can be used within musical experiences to facilitate positive health changes. This is accomplished through designing and facilitating structured experiences that align with and modulate the bodies natural rhythms in ways that are intentional and desirable. Two primary areas of focus include the rhythms of walking and the rhythms of breathing. Both of these areas relate to ï¿½our general physical health and can be developed to affect emotional and spiritual health.
Discussion of the POPS approach to teaching and learning rhythm patterns. POPS stands for ‘Pattern Over Pulse Sequence’ and is a methodical way to help students (and yourself) learn and play new rhythms. The same concept may be applied to melodic material, but this episode focuses on rhythm.
With the recent rise in the popularity of drumming over the last 10 to 15 years, there are more and more opportunities to take part in this form of community music making. That’s the good news, but it’s not the only news. There are also some serious health considerations that come along with group drummingand any form of community music making for that matter.
According to a study by the World Health Organization (WHO), Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) poses a real threat for the health and well-being of people the world over. Although the study focused on sustained levels of noise in the workplace, even temporary exposure to high levels of sound can cause permanent hearing loss. What?
The consequences of noise induced hearing loss include:
- social isolation.
- impaired communication with coworkers and family.
- decreased ability to monitor the work environment.
- increased injuries from impaired communication in isolation.
- anxiety, irritability and decreased self-esteem.
- lost productivity.
- expenses for workers’ compensation and hearing aids.
- tinnitus, or what is often referred to as a ‘ringing’ in the ears.
As the number of musicians in an ensemble increases, the potential for hearing loss also increases. Traditional ‘world music’ drumming ensembles consists of 4 or 5 drummers at the most, with a possible 2 or 3 additional small hand percussionists playing instruments like bells and blocks. The introduction of large format group drumming a.k.a. drum circles, introduces an entirely new challenge when it comes to keeping sound levels at a healthy volume. Drum circles are certainly not the only types of drumming ensembles that can produce high levels of sound. Marching bands and traditional drumming groups can as well.
At a recent conference, I personally experienced sound levels exceeding 95 dB. these were measured using a decibel meter on my iPhone at a distance of 10 feet outside of a drum circle with an estimated 100 participants. The world health organization studied two types of noise in the workplace, those between 85 and 90 dB and those above 90 dB.
Just how much short term exposure to sound levels over 90 dB might affect the one’s hearing is unclear: however, it is generally agreed that any sustained exposure to sound levels over 90 dB should be avoided. If you don’t carry around a sound meter with you, you can use this general rule of thumb. If it feels like it’s too loud, it probably is. Your physiology is likely adequate to warn you if sound levels become unhealthy. The important thing is that you listen to your body and take action, rather than waiting until it’s too late. What was that you said?
Some things you can do to avoid hearing loss include: using earplugs, moving away from loud instruments and avoiding placing yourself in extremely loud environments. If you are a drummer, musician, teacher or therapist who works in settings where group drumming takes place, you can help to educate your peers and participants as to the potential health risks posed by large group drumming ensembles and take steps to reduce risk.
Keep in mind that most drums and percussion instruments, at least the kind that are commonly used in drum circles, are traditionally played outdoors. Bringing these instruments indoors and increasing the numbers by ten-fold or more, poses unique challenges with regard to health. As my friend and drummer Chrystine Jullian is fond of saying, “Drumming can be a lot like hitting your head against the wall – it feels good when you stop.”
There’s some truth to this statement. Whether you realize it or not, when you expose yourself to sustained high levels of sound, your body experiences a low level of trauma, triggered by a mechanism in your upper spinal column and lower brain called the reticular formation. Because your body reacts to the sound levels as if it were under attack, possibly in an earthquake, thunderstorm, or stampede, certain hormones and endorphins will be released into your bloodstream. One of these may include dopamine, a feel good hormone that is often associated with runner’s high and other activities where the body feels the need to self medicate.
An interesting question that could be explored is: Are the good feelings that drummers often self-report due to the activity of drumming itself, or the result of the body’s natural defense mechanisms protecting it from potential pain?
What we do know, is that if we are all going to continue to enjoy community drumming in large numbers, and indoors, then we must all find a way to preserve and protect our hearing. After all – what good is music making if you can’t enjoy it? Huh? I didn’t catch that last thing you said.
I hope this article has been helpful to you. Please leave your comments and suggestions below.
Group drumming is a popular form of music making, used by all types of people for all types of reasons. From elementary classrooms to advanced ensembles and from drumlines to drum circles, group drumming offers people multiple choices for choosing ways to plug into rhythm and do something that is both fun and rewarding on many levels.
There are many forms of group drumming. Some are defined by the types of instruments that are used, while others are defined by the goals and methods that are used by the participants. This post will help you identify different types of group drumming by name, even when they might look similar in many ways. The most important aspects in identifying any form of group drumming is 1) the qualifications, training, and experience of the leaders, 2) the dynamics that exist between the participants and the leaders, and 3) the overall goals for the experience (education, recreation, ritual, therapy, team building, etc.)
Note that the following are general descriptions and that in reality, there is some overlap between drumming types. Each type is often used in conjunction with other types. For example, within a group drumming program, the leaders might have participants engage in different types of group drumming at different times (and for different reasons). Some types look very different and some look similar, but they all have different dynamics and qualities that make each type unique.
Groups of people who meet to develop their drumming skills as a group, often with the goal of performance. Most ensembles fall into two main categories; traditional music and contemporary music. Many ensembles practice and perform both traditional (re-creative) music as well as write their own pieces (compositional). Drumming Ensembles are usually run by a leader or team and often require participants to audition, come to rehearsals, and maintain specific standards of skills and knowledge.
A drum class is a group of students who gather under the guidance of a teacher for the purpose of learning the art of drumming. Most classes meet regularly and are progressive in nature. Some do allow drop-ins, but many are setup as a series of lessons. Students learn how to hold and play their instruments, how to play specific rhythms, how to combine instruments and rhythms to create ensembles, and how to function as a member of the musical community, often guided by traditions that provide status based on someone’s level of skill and experience. Classes are taught by experienced drummers and usually open to anyone who wants to participate.
Drumming in Music Therapy
Music Therapists sometimes use drumming, either with an individual or with a group, within their clinical practice. Within the contact of therapy, group drumming can take the form of an ensemble, an improvisation (similar in appearance to a drum circle), or even a drum lesson (demonstrating, learning, practicing, etc.). The therapist determines which type of drumming experience will best serve the clients’ therapeutic goals. Drumming in music therapy is guided by the therapeutic needs of the client and shaped accordingly by the therapist. While there might be some similarities in appearance to other types of group drumming, music therapy services are very different with regard to the types of interactions that happen on both a musical and personal level.
Drumming is often used as a form of ritual, as a cultural tradition and within contemporary programs, as a way to structure aspects of a gathering. Ritual literally means ‘to fit together’ and group drumming, by its nature, provides structures and dynamics that assist in the creation of both temporal and textural aspects of a program. Workshop leaders, speakers, and presenters often use drumming or drop rhythm making as a way to bring people together, organize around a central theme, and create a ‘container’ for other elements of the ritual or program.
A drum circle is a form of community music making where the primary focus is on inclusion and in-the-momement music making (improvisation). The main characteristic of a drum circles is that the music is co-created by the participants, who are often at various levels of technical musical development. There’s no leader in a drum circle and no agenda, except to make music together and have fun. Drum circles take many forms and might have a host, facilitator, or conductor, or they might be completely ad-hoc and open to the public. Drum circles are unplanned and spontaneous. Often, there are no requirements for participation, aside from some etiquette and general guidelines for keeping drums and people safe.
Interactive drumming is a structured music-based program that is led by a percussionist for individuals who often have no prior drumming experience and no expectations of continuing to play drums beyond the scope of the program. Interactive drumming provides instruments, musical guidance, and thematic material to safely bring a group of people through a program. ID Programs are often designed to promote certain beneficial qualities and values, such as communication, sharing, teamwork, and mutual support. ID Leaders are sometimes accompanied by dancers, singers, and other musicians. This type of group drumming is very popular in the world of corporate training and events.
Drumming games, also called Rhythm Games, are uses of drums and percussion instruments within a game or play format. To qualify as a rhythm game, there must be ‘play rules’ that structure and guide participants. The rules often limit, shape, and guide the ways people interact and play the game, just like any other type of game. Games sometimes have a beginning, a middle and an end, but they can also be cyclic – ending when the leader stops the game. Games are often played with teams, but sometimes participants self-select or switch roles depending on the play rules. Games are typically not focused on creating music as much as they are on creating certain types of relationships and dynamics between group members.
We engage in drum play when we use drums and other percussion instruments in non-musical ways. For example, we might create a sculpture out of instruments, or use instruments as props in a story. We might tell a story about an instrument or use drums to create a kind of ‘obstacle course’ within a space. If there drums are being used for something other than creating music, it’s likely that drum play is happening. Drum Play can be similar to Drumming Games in many ways and the two are often combined.
These are just a few types of group drumming, but there are others. I hope this article has helped you understand some of the differences and similarities between them. As always, if you have questions, please leave them below or send me a personal message.
Teachers often ask me about how to outfit their music classroom with drums and percussion instruments. Which types of drums and how many? Which brands and models should I buy? Which drums are best for which types of music? In this post, I will answer all these questions to the best of my ability and I’ll provide some general guidelines for using drums in the classroom and beyond.
Before we get into the specifics of drum types, we first need to acknowlegde that there are many types of music that use drums as either the primary instrument, or in a foundational and essential role. Drumming cultures tend to be those that play music outside as opposed to inside, and that emphasize community dancing and singing as part of an overall musical celebration. This isn’t to suggest that other cultures that do not rely as heavily on drums do not emphasize dance. They certainly do–only that drumming cultures almost always do.
In most ‘drum-oriented’ musical genres, the role of ‘drummer’ falls to a few select individuals who specialize in the art form. Most everyone sings and dances and the drummers and other musicians provide the musical foundations. Drumming, as an art form, generally takes years of practice and study to master and is as technically challenging as any other instrumental category. Were it not, many people would be drumming at professional levels. Most drums and percussion instruments are accessible at the most basic of levels (making a sound), but quickly require study and practice to move beyond the most elemental of music making. This is one reason that there are usually only a few people in a community that do the drumming for the community.
Most drumming ensembles (and I’m going to generalize here) consist of four to six musicians. Some play drums, usually three to four people, and others play hand percussion (bells, shakers, etc.). This “rhythm section” often supports melodic instruments of various types (xylophones, wind instruments, horns, voices, etc.). Given that most drumming groups consist of from four to eight musicians, I recommend purchasing instruments to reflect this size ensemble.
For example, in the Caribbean, a typical drumming ensemble might consist of two or three conga players, a bongo player, a timbale player, someone playing claves, another person on shekere, and some singers (and dancers). In a West African ensemble, we might find three to four djembe players, someone playing a set of three dundun (or three players, each with one drum), someone playing a rattle, someone on balafone (xylophone), and singers (and dancers). In Brazil, we might see an ensemble with someone on surdo, someone on shaker, someone on panderio, someone playing triangle, and people singing (and dancing).
Where it gets confusing
Many of the large drum companies don’t really want to sell just a few drums and some small percussion instruments. They would much rather that you buy 20 drums and four or five small instruments. Just look in the catalogs you get in the mail or at conferences and you will see ‘instrument sets’ that consist of 12, 15, and even 20 drums! Not only that, but most of those drums are the same basic type of drum, which means that the sound is basically the same. This means that when you play music from different cultures (and genres) it’s all going to sound pretty much the same–at least with regards to the drumming. Where did the idea that we should purchase 20 of the same drum come from? It came from the drum companies. The thing that teachers have to figure out is “What do I do with all these drums?”
Along comes the drum circle
The idea that you can play virtually unlimited quantities of drums has been promoted in recent years (also by the drum companies) as a way to use all those drums that you purchased! The only problems are: 1) they get so loud you can’t really use any other instruments – because you can’t here them over the drumming!; and 2) There’s no cultural connections to be made through drum circles (because they are essentially jam sessions and have no codified or historical musical foundations on which to build). So if your goal is to teach culturally-specific music, a drum circle is not an appropriate tool to use (although if your goal is to have fun and make some improvised music–a drum circle is fine). Drum circles are entry-level musical experiences that can be a way to experiment with sounds, practice improvisation, learn how to listen, try new things, and generally have fun, but they won’t teach you or you students how to play traditional music or develop specific pieces of music to be performed. To do that, we turn to traditional drumming ensembles and the music teacher. (If you’re thinking to yourself “But I don’t know how to play drums and create all that different music!” Don’t worry. That’s why I’m here – to help you!)
Here’s the Answer
Rather than buying 20 of the same drum, purchase 3-4 drums from each of the cultures you wish to represent. These can include; congas, bongos, clave, shekere, and cowbells from the Caribbean; djembes, dundun, and bells from West Africa; surdo, shakers, agogo, and triangle from Brazil; darbuka (doumbek), zils (finger cymbals), frame drums, and tambourines from the Arab Nations. This way, when you want to represent the music from a particular region, you can. And when you want to have a drum circle (jam session with everyone playing a drum or percussion instrument) you can do that too–and you will have greater diversity that with all the same type of drum.
When you put together your ensembles, keep in mind that there is usually one drummer per part and only a few drums in the ensemble. You can double up parts, which reenforces learning for some students and provides more opportunities for students to get hands-on experience. You can also rotate students through the drumming ensemble and have those who are not playing drums dance and sing. Remember that only a few people typically play drums and most people dance and sing. Most people learn to play drums by listening first, then dancing, then singing, then playing small percussion, and gradually moving up the ladder – getting to drum (once they know the music). Finally, one may arrive at the master drummer seat (if they really work hard!). To accomplish this, they have to know what everyone is doing and be able to play all the other parts in their sleep!
Keep in mind that most drumming music is played outside and that using large quantities of drum inside can produce unhealthful volume levels. Protect everyone’s ears and drum responsibly! If you can, take your drumming ensemble outside. Sit under a tree or in some shade and drum away! Maybe you can get some pedestrians to dance!
As a drummer, I know how exciting it is to get to play, but I also know that it takes many hours of focused practice to master the instruments that make up the category we call drums and percussion. Using Achievment-Based Community Drumming (ABCD) models helps to develop music skills while honoring traditions. It helps connect students to world music and raises the standards for all music makers–no matter where they are along their journey.
Still need help?
Leave your questions and comments below. I love to hear from you- What you’re doing and how you’re helping your students learn and grow.