I just can’t help it. As much as I love drumming, it’s no secret that I love dancing to drums even more.

I love making music:

…but once everyone’s songs mesh into that one perfect percussive orchestra, my body can’t sit still any longer.

Yesterday’s drum circle was not so much about the technical aspects of drum playing but rather the healing qualities that these wonderful instruments have, especially when played as part of a group. The workshop was led by a duo of women: Marcy, a no-nonsense percussion phenom who taught the basics of each instruments:

Marcy (front left) explaining how to use a djembe

…and Jan, a “Mother Earth,” grandmotherly figure who preached about the importance of self-healing, connection to spirit, and being in tune with the universe. She was a vibrant being from head to toe, beyond the colorful ensemble she was wearing. She spoke like a pastor at an AME church: poised, passionate, and provocative, calling for us to find connection with the world beyond our physical bodies, but reminding us to take care of ourselves as well, through yoga, reiki, and massage. I adored Jan: Her spirit was infectious, and I couldn’t help smiling every time she spoke.

Jan and her shekere.

The event attracted a decent crowd for it being held in a small-town yoga studio, where, across the street, high school hipsters in aviator shades and skinny jeans sat outside a pizza shop. Inside, about 15 people of all ages and races collected to shake, rattle, and roll. One woman brought her young son (maybe 10 years old?) who was amazingly well-behaved and engaged in the program (at the end, when we went around the room describing how we were feeling, he responded with “EXHAUSTED! And healed.” <—LOVE!)

The "exhausted and healed" kid

Even more amazing, a woman I traveled to Egypt with in 2005 was there; I haven’t seen here since then! My sidekick for the day was Carrol, my former coworker. I call her my Fake Mom, and we do artsy stuff together.

Coming "om" with Carrol

Although several of us brought our own drums, Marcy and Jan toted along a whole mini-van of assorted instruments: djembes, shekeres, bells, a snare drum, and frame drums.

Shekere your booty!

Carrol tries out the djun djun

They also brought gourds, which reminded me of my hula days and playing the ipu. However, these gourds were painted to represent the colors of the chakras, and we “tuned in” to each chakra by chanting its specific sound.

One of my favorite take-home quotes of the day was when Jan described the ajna chakra. “They say it’s your third eye,” she said. “But let’s call it the first eye,” meaning that both eyes really become one during meditation.

It could have been the beautiful spring weather helping, but I left the studio feeling revived! I’ve been to an assortment of drum circles/events, but this one infused me with vitality. Jim Donovan‘s workshops have helped me with the technical aspect of drumming, but this one incorporated the spiritual elements of using instruments made from Mother Nature to connect with the rest of the world around us. Two hours of drumming, breathing, chanting, call-and-response, and, most important, the freedom to DANCE!

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