Organizing a Kid's Drum Circle
What is a community drum circle?
A community drum circle is a group that gathers together to share a rhythmical and musical experience. Rhythm is a truly universal language, and naturally creates a sense of community that can bridge any number of gaps and potential biases.
In a community drum circle, the participants act as both audience and entertainment, sharing a musical experience that results in harmony, unity, and feelings of wellness for all present. It is very important to note that the success of a drum circle is not dependent on the groupâ€™s musical talent or ability. A kidsâ€™ drum circle is no exception!
Beginning is easy.
A drum circle consists of a group of participants that form a circle around a central figure: the facilitator. The job of the facilitator is to inspire, teach, and orchestrate the group to its highest rhythmic potential. Anyone can act as facilitator, regardless of their musical experience or talent, but they should possess a few key qualities: lack of inhibition, and good communication and listening skills. In the case of a kidsâ€™ community drum circle, an adult is the obvious best choice for the first few trial runs.Â
To begin, separate the group into sections and demonstrate a simple rhythm to one group after another, always turning clockwise. Beginning with the first, demonstrate a simple rhythm and invite them to play along. You can select any of the rhythms in this booklet to get you started.Â
Continue around the circle introducing a different rhythm to each section. Once the group is playing as a unified whole, you can begin to introduce simple solos that add punctuation to the groupâ€™s core rhythm. Once comfortable, children will enjoy contributing to this new dynamic by experimenting with solo rhythms of their own.
When you sense a â€œlullâ€? in the rhythm or diminished energy in the group, this is known as a â€œtransition pointâ€?. It is an opportunity to breathe new life into the drum circle by altering the groupâ€™s core rhythm. Changing the rhythm of just one of the sections will have an immediate impact.Â
Closing a drum circle is easy- when you sense a transition point and feel that the group doesn't have the energy or desire to continue, simply increase the volume and tempo to a thundering climax, ending by holding your beaters high in the air.
An advanced exercise is to invite one player at a time to contribute a new solo rhythm of their own creation. Train them to actively listen before adding their own rhythm to the mix. Although it may take some time, you will be amazed by the magic that will result!