Northern Michigan Drum Village – presented two drum circles
1) First night: Tuesday, August 14, 2018
2) Second night: Wednesday, August 15, 2018
Both evenings were scheduled to begin at 8:00 pm and to last approximately one hour. The activity lasted at least an hour each night.
There were approximately 22 campers, 7 counselors, a number of State of Michigan staff, and some volunteers present for this event.
The drum circle was held at the firepit that had built-in tiers of benches in a semicircle around a fire ring. The seating faced Walloon Lake which was just a few steps away from the fire pit location.
Roughly 40 people assembled to participate in the first drum circle. Volunteers and staff helped to unload a van load of drums and percussive equipment to gather at the circle.
Lynn Turner, Executive Director, Northern Michigan Drum Village, facilitated the drum circle. She began by introducing each of the different types of drums and percussion sounds that she had brought. As she introduced the names and sounds of the instruments she noted that during the second part of the drum circle, everyone was welcome to try out different types of instruments.
The drum circle was conducted into two different parts. The first part was a facilitated activity where participants would individually make a rhythm and the group would play it back. A ‘call and response’ type of activity. Also, during the facilitated phase, an African polyrhythm was introduced where different rhythms were played at the same time to create a tradition rhythmic song. The intention of the facilitated phase is to engage participants to listen to each other’s patterns while feeling free to express their own.
During the second phase, an “open jam” was created where everyone played whatever came to them and are encouraged to keep their instrument if they are enjoying it or try a different one. Eventually, the group clicked into their own unique song.
Lynn brought traditional African drums: djembe, dununba, sangbans. Brazilian shakers and homemade shakers. Street drums (aka 5-gallon buckets) with drumsticks, and a rain stick.
During the first night the group initially had great fun making noise as loud as they wanted on so many buckets and sticks. Then they settled down and were quite interested in the ‘call and response’ as it went to each person around the circle. All participants were told to say “pass” if they didn’t want to participate at that moment and it was noted that it would be respected. Only a handful passed during this time. The “open jam” followed and was quite loud at times then had a rippling effect. Then it was followed by certain participants who gathered together to create a certain sound. Some stopped and were content to listen, but most continued to make a group sound.
Something was engaged and released during that first session since it opened up a whole different experience the second night. The facilitator began the second circle by asking the group what they thought or felt about the previous night. The first person who spoke noted how he felt good about hearing about the African drums and also how good they sounded. Some campers enjoyed the ‘call and response’ time quite a bit, and some enjoyed the ‘open jam’. They all stated they enjoyed the experience.
But something unique and precious happened the second night. One of the counselors brought his African djembe and introduced a traditional African song to the group. Another counselor was from South Africa (!) and joined him as they sung and drummed to a traditional South African song. Another counselor brought a piece of plywood so he could tap dance to live drumming! The facilitator accompanied these spontaneous performances on her African dunduns drums as the rest of the group used shakers or bucket drums for an outstanding event.