Why

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November 12, 2010

The light shining in their eyes after we drum together is the reason I do my job. The laughter, the giggles, the grins, the easily identifiable signs of joy; the transformation from our individual hang-ups and concerns into a cohesive, harmonious state of happiness.

I schlepped piles of instruments to a couple of different elementary schools today, and drummed with dozens of sixth graders this morning, and dozens of first graders this afternoon. Drums and assorted hand percussion in the morning, Boomwhackers, the Hang, and a personal djembe in the afternoon, one hundred and eleven students, plus seven teachers, totaling one hundred and eighteen participants today.

Today wasn’t a “job” it was a “gift” because I was providing music for the classes my niece and nephew are in. I didn’t asked to be paid, I just tried to be a good uncle by contributing musical enrichment to a couple of elementary schools. But as I sit here in the slanting rays of fading, chilly November sunlight, beside the creek in the back yard of my mom’s property, among the pines of Plumas county, watching the steam rising from the flanks of the horses playing in the field next door and the leaves dropping from the trees like weightless flecks of gold and crimson and reflect on today’s music-making, I feel no less rewarded than if I had been paid top wages by the most prestigious private school.

Twenty-one years deep into this career of drum circle facilitation, I look back, consider the four hundred thousand-plus participants I have hosted, mentally peruse the spectrum of school cafeterias, concert halls, corporate ballrooms, castles, pubs, fields, beaches, backyards, living rooms, trains, buses, restaurants, spotlights, bonfires and sunsets in which I have held events, and realize nothing has changed. I still do it for the same reasons I got hooked on it in the first place.

Drumming together creates a uniquely beautiful state of love.

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Chap Stick Cap Stop

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January 12, 2012

This morning I was working with a group of seventy 6th graders, and giving student volunteers a chance to go into the middle and signal the stop cut for the entire group. We were experimenting with various ways to signal the rumble to stop non-verbally, and there were some very stylish and inventive signals taking place. The students were lovin’ it.

One of the students volunteered… so everyone else rumbled, and he went out to the center of the circle (“orchestration spot”). Then he held up a stick of Chapstick lip balm. All seventy of us stared at his hands. He lifted the cap off the Chapstick, looked around at everyone, and then brought the lid back down onto the Chapstick… and the rumble stopped in perfect unison!

Howls of laughter erupted all around the room.