Next to the human voice the drum is probably the oldest musical instrument. The rhythmic alchemy of drumming has accompanied festive gatherings and marked important occasions across the millennia of civilization. Drum circles can be found in many cultures and Americans are discovering the benefits of drumming together as a community.


Thanks to the bequest of a friend, I have an assortment of drums at the yoga dome. Though having danced at many drum circles, I have little training in actual drumming and have searched out teachers including Bakersfield drum circle facilitator Betty Mendez. I have also bought the books by Santa Cruz-based drummer Arthur Hull and am enrolled in his drum circle facilitation workshop this March.

Earth Rhythms

There is an art to “facilitating” drum circles. I have facilitated a couple drum circles for our annual Lammas party held every August in the dome. They have been really fun but admittedly anarchic. I haven’t been able to facilitate very effectively which is why I am still training.

When properly facilitated, community drum circles sound really good but people must listen to each other to keep a steady beat. When people start drumming for the first time, there is a tendency to play loud, fast and cacophonous resembling the “thunder drumming” practiced in anarchic drum circles.

Thunder drumming is invited during certain times, such as when transitioning from an established “pulse” beat into a different rhythm or when finishing a rhythm.


In The Beginning

To begin drumming together, someone with a loud drum establishes a pulse beat that everyone repeats on their drum. As the different drummers join in there is a variety of tones. Seasoned drummers may recognize a chance to add a different beat within the basic pulse which may be joined by other drummers. Listening to the other drums is integral to the entrainment process that happens in community drumming.

 Positive Vibration

My daughter led a recent drum circle with a few of us after I, unsuccessfully, tried to lead a beat. She slowed us down to what she called the “Bob Marley beat.” We sounded so good and played about 20 minutes. It is really refreshing and fun. I also like hula hooping around the outside of the circle as drumming and dancing go together beautifully.


If you have been in drum circles and are willing to lead one please contact me to suggest a circle and I will gather the drums into the dome and launch. Otherwise stay posted and, when the time is right, we will announce our drum circles.