This quarter Bellcate School added a Drumming Circle, as a therapeutic activity, to our farm and nature centered programming. We did some research and discovered a beginner training method demonstrated by Judy Atkinson on you tube. She shares simple rhythms following the principle “If you can say it, you can play it.” This technique was a winner as our students felt immediately competent playing rhythms following the cadence of short phrases; “I love apple pie,” “I love to play my drum,” “mashed potatoes,” etc. Our students were exposed to a diversity of African, Native American and Cuban Drums. On day one, each group was able to produce sounds in rhythm with one another. Over the next several weeks each group gained confidence as individuals and as a collective to take healthy risks while still attuning to one another in a collaborative cadence. Neurologist Barry Bittman, who co-developed Hearth Rhythms, with music therapist, Christine Stevens, found that group drumming and recreational music making increases the bodies production of cancer killing t-cells, decreases stress and can change the genomic stress marker. Bittman says “drumming tunes our biology, orchestrates our immunity and enables healing to begin.” And whats even better, the Drumming Circle was an instant hit with our students! “I could do this all day, everyday. I just feel so connected and happy,” explains Jarek. This sentiment was echoed by virtually all of the participating students. As a result of the popularity and the therapeutic value of the Drumming Circle, Bellcate School will now offer Drumming Circle as a class for Summer 2018. Our students will meet with Jeh Kulu Dance and Drum Theater for a half day workshop at the beginning of summer to develop cultural awareness, skills and to build a sense of community. Following six weeks of practice, our drummers will Join Jeh Kulu drummers at the end of summer programming for a celebration in the park.

“We moderns are the last people on the planet to uncover what older cultures have known for thousands of years: The act of drumming contains a therapeutic potential to relax the tense, energize the tired and soothe the emotionally wounded.”
-Gary Diggins, Psychology Today