Drum circles are filled with enthusiastic people who want to connect and play together. These players seek the rhythmic unity that can only be found through good listening, cooperation and respectful negotiation. Once the players have all those things, bliss happens… a pulsating groove so strong you can’t help but be pulled into it. A groove that reaches down into your soul and massages it.
Thing is no matter how good that groove sounds and feels no group will play the same groove forever. Change is inevitable.
The change maybe started by one person who innocently stops or alters their pattern. This is often followed in turn by others doing the same. This results in an organic shift of the pulse. Alternatively, change may occur because of a player deliberately wanting to mix things up by forcing a new speed or feel on the group. Never-the-less, the result is the same. There is a period of uncertainty in progress. The pulse is in flux, things don’t sound or feel quite right. Confusion reigns, at least for a little while.
When this happens it can be hard for some players to know what to do. They can be scared because they don’t know what’s coming. What they were holding onto is now gone. They can’t find the pulse anymore. It’s is now a moving target and no one really knows where its going to end up. This is change in action.
What can you do to survive this? One approach is to stop playing. This is risky because if everyone did that the piece would die. Another is to simplify what your doing and drop down in the mix. You cut down on the confusion so you can hear what you can grab onto but you’re still hanging on. Changes like this are also a wonderful opportunity for others to step up and take the lead, maybe even you.
This common drum circle occurrence reminds me a lot of life in general. We all love to be in the groove, be it at home, at work or play. But change is inevitable and yes, it can confuse us and challenge us. However, if we have a positive attitude, listen and pay attention, we can come out on the other side even better and stronger than we were before, right into the next groove. Let’s get drumming!
Have a look as this team of managers from a Pharma company go from learning to play a drum to being able to improvise freely. This group of players came to each session with an open mind and a willingness to put themselves out there. You can almost see them becoming more unified with each note. The drumming sessions were cleverly positioned to close out and summarize each half day business session at a 2 1/2 day retreat. It also helps when the CEO takes things to a whole new level. Let’s get drumming!
One of my favourite team moments is when I leave the middle of a drum circle I am leading. I do this when I am sure each player has found their own inner rhythm. My leaving heightens their senses, causes their ears to work even better and opens the doors to infinite possibilities. Because believing that YOU CAN is the biggest part of the battle. Let’s get drumming!
During an intensive business seminar you need to make it a priority to refresh your mind and your body. Nothing does that better than taking a few minutes to be creative. Look here to see what you can do with your colleagues with a few pens, glasses and water bottles. Also look at the smiles. Let’s Get Drumming!
I was recently reminded of a humbling experience I had a few years ago. My colleague Ray Dillard and I had the honour of working with a group of people from the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network. They are an amazing group of individuals who face incredible challenges on a daily basis.
I wanted to assure them that I had a deep respect for Aboriginal culture and that I had a great affinity for the power of group drumming. I began my program by saying ” I want you to know that we have been playing drums for a very long time”, to which one of the participants immediately chimed in, “Good, so have we.” After a good laugh we shared one of the most memorable and deeply moving sessions I have ever experienced. It is so great when you learn while your working. Let’s get drumming!
Drum: an instrument you hit to make sound which results in broad smiles, feel good sensations and a more relaxed you.
Playing a drum gets your right brain going and relaxes you. It lowers your blood pressure and increases your feel good brain chemical “dopamine” . BTW – these benefits are magnified when drumming with others.
A passer-by seeing and hearing a drumming circle may not give it much thought other than that it is simply music being made by drums…loud, repetitive & groovy. But if they take the time to look more closely, they will see how people think and have gain some insight into who those people are. Let’s get drumming!
Let me explain – years ago I developed a “kick-ass” Audit document that I shared with clients who were deciding on the focus of their drumming circle event. My Audit had been painstakingly prepared and was [he says with a smug smile] an exhaustive list of how a company could benefit from a drumming circle.
Well this woman, person, emailed me masquerading as someone, as an HR person from a company I know… I sent the document in good faith and POOF – she vanishes, turns out she has never worked for the organization she mentioned and I can only guess that she can’t wait to use my audit for her own purposes.
So I’ve decided to share my Audit with you, right here, right now.
If you are interested in knowing how I can focus your drumming circle – download my PDF below.
For years people have been interested in learning about personality types and how they interact.
One way to learn about each other is to improvise music together in a drumming circle. In an improvised piece, the group creates a sustained piece of music together where every person plays whatever patterns (rhythms) they like and can change patterns whenever they wish.
This might sound like a recipe for certain chaos however with the right preliminary exercises, any group can achieve this. The constant is that peoples’ personalities will always dictate what and how they play.
An improvised piece will go through cycles. This cycle consists of sections of rhythmic stability (groove) and transition points. The lengths of these sections are unpredictable and subject to many variables. Some transitions can be subtle while others not so much. This is wonderful to experience and great to learn from.
I have spent some time thinking about how Myers-Briggs personality profiles could translate to how people will drum in an improvised piece and have come up with the following results shown below.
While I have not formally tested and chronicled my observation, based on 25 years drumming with literally thousands of people – I can say with great certainty – that personality types emerge and intertwine in ways that follow Myers-Briggs profiles. Finding your place and achieving synchronicity in a group is a powerful proposition.
Drum circles are a place for risk takers, a place for those willing to try something different.
Are you someone who likes to try things you haven’t done before? Who are those people? It seems they also manage to smile no matter what is asked of them? Are you lucky enough to know someone like that? I met one such person not so long ago. She had never played a drum before in her life yet while playing she taught me many things.
This week I am enjoying the pleasure of introducing drumming to some Gr. 7 & 8’s. It’s so interesting. So revitalizing!
There is absolutely no resistance. They only have the constant desire to play. I cannot fault them as they sit impatiently on the edge of their chairs waiting for me to give permission for them to get a drum. I cannot fault them as they explode out of their chair like door-crashing Black Friday shoppers to grab the one they’ve been eying. I cannot fault them for having trouble stopping their drumming when I need to speak. They embrace the drums. They love every little tap they create.
They don’t really notice ( or perhaps care) that they are also involved in cooperation, respect, leadership, negotiation, and creativity. They are just having fun. Meanwhile their brains soak up how physics, history, geography and mathematics and life are all a part of drumming. They do notice that everyone in the class needs to be totally engaged for our creations to be their best. They don’t let anyone off the hook.
Yesterday I had to thank them, for they reminded me of things that I have taken for granted about playing a drum. They reminded me about what it is to play without inhibition. They reminded me about how great drumming is when you play with people who really love to play even though they don’t know how.
They reminded me of the pure joy we all had for making music before someone cast an opinion on our level of talent, and neutralized our desire.
My advice to these students: if you are having fun then keep playing, no matter what!
Imagine a place where people come together to produce a great outcome.
These people are a diverse group from different backgrounds. They are a mix of personality profiles. They have a range of skills and talents. They each have different tasks to accomplish. To produce their outcome, their roles must be intertwined seamlessly, efficiently and flawlessly. They must constantly assess how they are doing. They must keep watch on the outcome. They must be able to make changes on the fly. Their success, or failure, will be immediately obvious to themselves and observers. The beauty is, that when it all comes together, everyone knows it. When it’s all clicking, everyone is smiling and having fun. It feels magical and euphoric. These people can’t help but feel an incredible sense of joy and accomplishment. They wish this feeling, this outcome, could last forever.
Welcome to the Drum Circle: a great place to work together.
With a little bit of coordination, and some listening, and some appreciation of the sounds around you, you can make music. and that is very similar to when you create a culture of inclusion, where you really leverage the diversity of people.
At first glance you might think this is just an ordinary group of people, but they are very inspiring to me. They are all people who run their own businesses, accompanied here by the spouses, who undoubtedly act in a supporting or partnership role. They are open minded and fully engaged. They show an incredible “can do” attitude. Watch as they listen, let the rhythm inside them and then make something magical happen. Just incredible! Let’s get drumming!
Like people, drums come from all over the world. It is no surprise that when you travel, it is so common to see or hear one. It is also no surprise that when we hear one, we want to move to its beat. The less inhibited around us simply can’t help it. Everyone (even those who claim to have “no rhythm”) have a close relationship to a beat.
Also like all of us, every drum has a tradition, a deep history that links them with their culture, their ancestors and their ways of doing things. Most drums have a traditional repertoire that was created for specific purposes, be it to prepare for battle, celebrate the harvest or tell an epic tale. Drumming was originally about telling a story.
It is beautiful to see someone playing a drum for the first time. They smile as they revel in its excitement, they get pulled in by its voice and feel its incredible power to push negativity from the soul. The feeling is much like meeting someone new: you know you like them, but you don’t really know why. It just feels good to be with them. Later you learn you like them because of who they are, their traditions, their way of doing things and how they make YOU feel.
The drum circle has evolved naturally, as has our society. It is a medium where rich and deep traditions are blended together to create something new, something that represents us in our present cultural melange. The drum circle allows us to create new stories and new traditions.
This is wonderful, but we must never forget to take the time to learn about and honour the traditions that made each of us who we are. That knowledge will make what we play and do together even stronger. Let’s get drumming!
Drums have been found in Neolithic cultures dating to 5500–2350 BC. Drums not only had musical qualities, they were also a means of communication over great distances. Drums had a direct effect on soldier’s morale and were so powerful that they could change the result of a major battle. Today a sales manager may incite his team to drum up new business and what this specifically means is to use a strategic method, and consistent effort to communicate with as many prospects as possible over a specified period of time. WHICH IS EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A DRUM IS PLAYED FOR OTHERS TO HEAR and FEEL with a requisite RESPONSE. This metaphor, this effort and this outcome are consistent with the earliest use of drums and drumming.
Companies that have employed drumming circles consistently cite a change in the energy, attitude and effort of the group. What began 2500 years ago is available for you today in the form of a corporate drumming circle. On the boomdrumming.com web site there are testimonials and examples where drumming positively affected the dynamics of a group. A boomdrumming circle can incite your team.