Meet Ellen, a 78-year-young drummer. I had the pleasure of meeting Ellen at the first Thursday night DRUMMM Rhythmplay series at the San Francisco JCC last September. She came to class early to tell me that she had lost her hearing (she only hears white noise), lost her music (she used to play cello) and lost her zest for life. While Ellen had never played a drum before, she felt compelled to come try my drumming class. What has transpired over the past 8 months has been a story of transformation, reconnection, friendship and joy. This is Ellen’s story…

What made you decide to start drumming?

I decided to drum after it was suggested by my therapist as a way to keep from being isolated and a bit depressed after many losses (family and friends) and the loss of my hearing. A push to get me active and involved again.

What was your musical life like before the hearing loss?

I played violin as a child and switched to cello at age 30. My siblings and my three sons all played and there was constant music at home. I played with the Eastern Connecticut Symphony, Connecticut College for Women, and Diablo Symphony in Walnut Creek when we moved to California. I took lessons all the time and would have continued if it weren’t for my hearing loss at age 60.

What does drumming do you for? How has it impacted your life?

This class has brought me much joy, new friends, a feeling of being back in an orchestra. Although I don’t hear the tones I feel the rhythms, and connecting with others and the being conducted by you is great. My life has been filled with music again. That’s why this drumming is such a blessing for me, and my children are delighted too!

Is there a favorite drum you enjoy playing?

I enjoy playing the Bahia Bass Drum (REMO) because of it’s deep tone, and holding it between my legs is very cello-like. That drum just seems to fit and I can drummm away for quite a long time without getting tired.

Please join Ellen, Jeni and the rest of the DRUMMM crew on Thursday nights:

***Thursday May 7th @ 7pm-9pm: Community Celebration DRUMMM CIRCLE, JCC SF– FREE! Meet Ellen and participate in a facilitated “hands-on” Drummm Circle, dine potluck-style, & celebrate the culmination of the latest Drummm Rhythmplay class. OPEN to the community, ALL ages welcome, NO experience necessary. Please bring a dish or beverage to share, and a drum or soundmaker if you have one. There will be extras on hand. Location: JCC SF, 3200 California St, SF, CA 94118.***Thursdays May 14th-June 25th @ 7-8:30pm: DRUMMM Rhythmplay Series, JCC SF

Play with Ellen, and unleash the drummer within!!
Discover your natural sense of rhythm, connect with your community, release stress and have fun! Open to all levels of experience. Location: JCCSF: 3200 California St, SF, CA 94118. Cost: $140 Member/$150 Public (6 classes). Early Registration Discount: Save $15 when you register by 5/15—just $125/$135. Returning students save an additional $10. Register: 415.292.1299 or a drum or rent one for $30 for the series. Contact Jeni at or 510.316.2850 to reserve a drum PRIOR to the first class.