Thanks to my 92-year-young grandmother, Evelyn Swerdlow, I recently had the pleasure of presenting a series of Drummm Circle programs at Southern California retirement community Laguna Woods. Presented as 90-minute “hands-on” wellness workshops for the residents, the programs began with a discussion of the goals and benefits of group drumming:
-To stimulate physical activity, circulation and coordination,
-To enhance brain functioning and creativity,
-To increase socialization and connection between participants,
-To improve immune system functioning and reduce stress.
Once we got the talking out of the way, it was time to play! We passed out drums to the 70+ participants and I did a brief introduction on the various types of sounds of the drums and how to play them. Joined by local drum circle facilitator Lee Kix on the bass drum, we started a simple pulse and people joined in. Before long the drum circle was in full force, then the magic kicked in–people were smiling, laughing, singing, soloing and dancing up a storm!
I was amazed by the spirit and energy these elders dispayed–the most rawkus being a group of ladies well into their nineties. I could barely keep up with them as they did the mambo, the cha-cha, the tango, and other dances from their hey-day. The drummers matched their tempo and steps with ease as the music and dance progressed to a great crescendo and slowly faded out.
As the circle came to a close, I asked people to share about their experiences in the drum circle. One woman said “This is the most alive I have felt in years.” If that’s not reason enough to continue doing what I do, I don’t know what is.
Article: Jeni Swerdlow, MA, ATR
Photo: Richard Graling