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Culture and Drumming

I had the honor of drumming with some Japanese students on their visit to Canada. Twelve drum circles over the course of three days. Intense! Each group was a class of 25 students all learning the English language. They were visiting Canada and came out to Canmore area to spend time in the Canadian Rockies. They spent one of their days out at Boundary Ranch and were able to participate in four amazing experiences. Dream catcher making, dog sledding, snow shoeing and a drum circle!

The drum circle was a highlight of their time, for both myself and them. Each group had their own gifts to bring to the circle, but as the workshops went on I began to notice and appreciate the culture of the Japanese people. Some of the things I noticed were, a deep respectful nature, a real focus on attention to detail, and getting the rhythms just right, and how the girls played so softly, and the boys played as loud as they could! By the end of the circles they were having so much fun and really getting into the synergy of drumming together.

On the last day the youth were clearly all needing some space to just relax, they had been having such a full week already. The first group to come through was practically falling asleep on their drums! I was thinking that the rest of the groups would be the same. But you can never really know what to expect, so I stayed open for the next group. To my surprise they were FULL of zest! This group absolutely loved the drum circle. They loved it so much that they asked to come back on their lunch break to have a spontaneous drum circle. I let them get into it on their own, without facilitation. This spontaneous drumming was so joyful and free, and it was exactly what any facilitator hopes to see. They were using all the skills I had shown them in their facilitated drum circle, and it drew a crowd of the other students to share in the joy.

Our drum circles are not specific to one culture, and it really shows that everyone in the human race can come together with the drum, it is a language all on its own. We overcame the boundary of language, and created true communication without words.  We created such a memorable experience for these teens, that they will bring back and remember for the rest of their lives.

I am so excited to work with them again next year already!!

Written by
Jamie Gore

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Seniors and Teenagers!


Several moments before the drum circle is about to begin, I am always so grateful if I have time to just be in the space before everyone is about to enter. There is a silence and and expectation of what is about to happen. I take these moments to slow down my heart rate and to say a silent intention to do the best I can and hope that everyone gets the most out of the drumming.  This photo is taken a few moments before a very special group entered the room. In Cochrane there is a place called Seniors on the Bow. Once a week they have an activity planned to bring together students from the high school and the seniors! They do this activity together and it is a total win win! As the students and the seniors all filtered into the room, I felt the nervous energy from everyone. After about ten minutes of drumming everyone was smiling and relaxing. After about twenty minutes of drumming I asked, ‘has anyone been holding their breath at all?’ A lot of people nodded YES! Interestingly when we are experiencing something new, we may have a tendency to hold our breath. I got them to focus on breathing very deeply for the rest of the circle.

The drum circle is a great way to bring all ages together and demonstrate that we are all equal and can belong to something bigger than ourselves. What a perfect example of how drumming can bring us all together!

Written by Jamie Gore