Rhythm, Community, and the Power of Drum Circles
There is something both fascinating and spectacular about rhythm. We see the manifestations of this in the most simplistic everyday activities. If we observe the movement of ocean water crashing up against a sandy shore, the steady lullaby of car engines putting children to sleep in backseats, or even just a heartbeat– embodied in all of these things is literally the rhythm of life. This rhythm reaches its full potential inside the atmosphere of a drum circle. And today I learned how life changing a drum circle could be.
There’s something symbolic about a these drum circle that brings one to understand how young people can come together and form a unified community and why this act is so necessary. There is both a cultural and historical trajectory of what some call “community percussion.” In various ways community drumming or drum circles are organically appearing in neighborhoods that experience multiple levels of systemic barriers and oppression.
Today I was honored to be a part of a drum circle at an organization I am working for. The circle encompassed twenty young students who at a very young age have experienced marginalization and struggles that no child should have to go through. I came to realize just how much environment and community impacts and informs a child’s life. A good community is what brings love, shared burden, and growth. But the inverse of a good community brings pain, depression, anger, and regret. These are many of the characteristics that these young people struggle against everyday. Inside of these circles one comes to learn that it truly does take a village to raise a child, and not only a village, but also a positive atmosphere. Unfortunately an individualized and competitive American version of raising children has taken the community out of the child’s life.
There’s a transformative narrative that I found in the heartbeat of the drum circle today. Author Michael Drake seems to have articulated this same power. He posits “drum circles provide the opportunity for people of like mind to unite for the attainment of a shared objective. There is power in drumming alone, but that power recombines and multiplies on many simultaneous levels in a group of drummers. The drums draw individual energies together, unifying them into a consolidated force.”
Many times we overlook these rhythms in life and the power that they hold. Often due to our hectic schedules we depend on children to remind us of how important and just how life changing these simple things can be. Things like community, drums, rhythms, and joining together with other people to combat the struggles we experience in life. It is often these moments that we come to realize the semantics behind transformation and ultimately positive progression.