Archive note: as this post was written in April of 2011, the events noted therein (the Hands on Learning Fair, Healthy Living Expo and April 12 Houses Drum Circle) are of course long over, and the next new post may or may not actually be about Music and Movement or Learning as mentioned at the end of the post, but I hope you’ll enjoy a look back on some of my first insights on Music and Movement here and keep tabs on the MT in ND page for updates on when the monthly drum circle and two annual events will be occurring again!
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Hello everyone and welcome April (though it doesn’t look much like it outside here in Grand Forks)!Â There is much happening this time of year; it’s Autism Awareness month and the month of the Young Child.Â The Grand Forks
Hands On Learning Fair (you’ll have to scroll down on the linked calendar a little bit to see the details) will be coming up Saturday April 16th, where you will see many a young child, some of whom will have Autism, or other medical and/or developmental needs.Â I encourage all Grand Forks families with small children to consider coming to this event, in which Emily Wangen (of Music Therapy in Motion) and I will be participating.
This coming Saturday (April 9th) I have been asked to be part of the 12 Houses booth at the 2011 Healthy Living Expo being hosted by the Alerus Center in Grand Forks.Â I will be hosting two demonstrations: one on Drumming for Wellness at 10am, the other for Bellydancing for Core Strengthening at 11am.
As a participant in a Healthy Living Expo, using dance as a form of exercise isn’t a new idea, but I find as a musician that the percussive elements of Bellydance can be really fun to engage in, and as you’ll read on below, percussion can have benefits for the body, mind, and emotions, all essential elements to overall human wellness.
There are many reasons to engage in Drumming for physical, mental, and social well-being.Â I’ve included several videos from my last Drum Circle at 12 Houses to illustrate each.
Playing a Drum requires Physical Energy
The instruments I bring to my drum circles all require physical exertion.Â The mere action of holding a large drum between your knees and striking it with one or both hands can be physically tiring.Â In this first attached video clip, you’ll hear a steadily increasing tempo coming from a drum in the the left corner of the screen (me!).Â As the tempo increases, you’ll also hear some laughs from folks who quickly realize what parts of how they’ve been playing their drums are sustainable and which parts aren’t, see them adapt their playing to fit as the pulse of the circle adjusts itself, and perhaps even imagine how heart rates are increasingÂ around the room.Â We have drum circles that end with participants actually feeling as winded as if they’ve just finished a jazzercise class!
Drumming requires mental focus
I will often engage my drum circle participants in games that challenge their brains as well as their bodies.Â One such game is in the next attached video: you will see me step into the center of the circle (wearing a little set of ankle bells, my latest and favorite Drum Circle Accessory!) and instruct one half of the circle to stop playing.Â It takes a little time, but eventually one half of the circle is listening to the other play.Â After a time, I invite the listening half of the circle back in to play together with the playing half for a time before instructing the half of the circle that got to play alone previously to stop and listen to the half that listened to them first.Â A game like this gives the group a chance to refocus and really hear what their fellow participants are doing.Â So it’s a social game as much as it is a mental one.
Another opportunity for mental wellness is the learning experience that can happen for children present at Drum Circles.Â It’s a chance for them to learn about music and instruments from cultures that are different than their own, a vital step towards raising children that are socially aware in the increasingly multi-cultural world we live in.Â In this final attached clip from my most recent 12 Houses Drum Circle, you’ll see the little girl in the video I linked to last post slip on a bellydance hip scarf and move around the circle, picking up various drums as she goes and experimenting with using claves as mallets (which may make some of you hand-drummers out there cringe, but don’t worry she eventually gets some felt tip mallets that are much gentler!).Â It’s fun to see this little gal’s thought process as she essentially builds herself a little drumset!
Drumming is a social experience
The previous video has some examples of this in the way that the little girl checks with various members of the circle before taking the drums she ends up using for her set, as well as the interaction between her, myself, and the woman who kindly lends us her felt mallets to use for playing it.Â The video I linked to last post was also a great example of the social experience that making music with a group of people can create, so I’ve included it again below.Â Seeing that little girl go to her father and play his drum with him never gets old!
So…I encourage any of you who live in the area to check out the Healthy Living Expo, and my demos at the 12 Houses booth.Â If you aren’t from North Dakota, find a Drum Circle or Bellydance class near you and find out how music can move you to a better state of physical, mental, and emotional well being!
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