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Making Music Creators not Consumers.

Copyright M Watters

Once again I found myself listening to the internet this time to an inteview with Christine Stevens ( Upbeat Drums, board certified music therapist and a brilliant drum circle facilitator ) she was one the trainers along with Dr Barry Bitman on the Healthrhythms training course that I undertook in 2010. Christine made a comment about the fact that people, particularly in western societies, have become consumers of music rather than music makers. I sat back and had a think about this and have to agree that the vast percentage of people consume music voraciously and few are involved in its creation. Is this because of its increase technical sophistication ? The part of us that is worried about making fools of ourselves ? The part of us that was exposed to negative feedback on our abilities at school ? Or is it our English reserve ? I used to count myself amongst the majority here as well.

Drumming, drum circles and spontaneous music making can play an important part in overcoming these pre-conceptions of ourselves and open the doors to music making and creativity. In fact its overall mantra as far as those of us involved in creating these events is that there are no wrong notes. Every contribution is valid and it is your contribution in that moment for that moment, be it one note or a flurry of notes that is the right contribution for you. It is the taking part that counts. Cameron Tummel another brilliant drum circle facilitator based in the USA tells a story towards the close of Arthur Hulls DVD ” Drum Circle Facilitation…Building Community Through Rhythm ” about an old lady bringing her drum to a drum circle of school children that was really thumping. She made her way to the front of the circle and took out her drum and waited and then hit her drum, one note and then again one note and then once more and so she went on. That was her contribution and she was there in the circle in the moment making her contribution and it was perfect.

This is again one of the basic strands that I like to build my work on, moving people to become music creators, having them realise that what they play and when they play it, is perfect and just what is needed for them and for the group. The benefit to all is the sound of the group and the increased confidence of the inner drummer in all of us, the knowledge that they can contribute and they can create music not just consume it. The benefits to all are also physical and mental, but that is another story.

I want to finish by using something that I posted on my facebook page some time ago about a gig I did at a senior living centre.

“So I go to an OAP home today at quarter to three for a half three gig, the woman who booked me was off. I walk in and meet her assistant a lovely lady she says that I am a bit early and I explain that it takes me some time to get my drums in and set up. She looks at me and says quizically DRUMS ? I say yes we are going to do some drumming. Oh you don’t play for the residents then ? she replies. I can do, but It’s about joining in, having fun and banging drums and singing. She looks at me…..they won’t like that, it’s too noisy and they are too posh, I don’t think this will work. To which I reply well let’s have a go and see what happens. So one hour later we have had 20 / 25 residents playing djembes and Surdos chanting Africa and waving mallets in the air. Lots of great feedback….one guy has been there for 4 years and never done anything like it before and loved it. I think the staff were a bit surprised as well, and I also got some interest for a school nearby one of the teachers mums was a resident and she happened to be visiting. Just goes to show you never know “

Spontaneous music making at its best.

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