Chrystine brings more than fifteen years experience leading rhythm events along with a collection of instruments from around the world (and a few from the kitchen)
- Team Building
- Sales Meetings
- Community Events
- Special Occasions
- Spiritual Gatherings
Member, Drum Circle Facilitator’s Guild – DCFG.net
Some thoughts on facilitating Free Range Drum Circles
I have never taken any official facilitator training courses. I have learned from Arthur Hull, Kalani and many others through conferences, special events, books, CDs, DVDs and etc; I thank them all for the wisdom they have imparted. I do have 40+ years of experience with public speaking, presentations, training and communications from my “real life.”
My approach to leading a circle may be a bit odd, but it works for me.
I set up with the instruments outside of the circle. I like to have space for myself or participants to move about and/or dance in the middle; in my more “spiritual” circles, we close by putting a chair in the middle and do energy work like Reiki or Pranic healing. I know some facilitators prefer instruments on or in front of the chairs. For me, having people experience choosing, and exploring which instrument speaks or calls to them is an important part of the circle and drumming experience. I have an extensive, eclectic, diverse and interesting collection of drums and percussion. Most of them are old, beat up and perhaps no longer have a perfect tone. None the less, watching people experiment with and discover the unique sound of each one is pure joy.
I place the bass drum(s) in front of my chair; I normally hold the bottom myself. By my nature, having grown up in the rock and roll era, I tend to use a backbeat as my foundation. If I have a problem with folks following my lead, I’ll stop; have them play a 1 beat with 2, 3 & 4 silent. Then we build it to a 2 & 4, move to 1, 2, 3 & 4. Once we are all synched, I ask them to improvise on top, underneath, or in between and let it rock. What we lack in finesse is made up for with enthusiasm. About the most complicated that I ever get is to divide the group into three parts; one group plays the 1, another 1& 3 and the third 2 & 4.
Also important to me is doing a stop and having people observe how they feel and notice how the noise can create the silence. My signature line is, “Drumming is a lot like beating your head against the wall; it feels really good when you stop.”
I prefer a somewhat unstructured circle. In my early days, facilitators would try to get us to play complicated patterns that would result more in frustration than music. I wound up just listening rather than playing. So I allow people to play what feels and sounds good to them. I tell them it is okay if they do no more than play a one beat. In those rare cases where someone is wondering off into a strange rhythm, playing too loudly or showboating I have no problem with stopping and starting over until we are together. If someone is particularly difficult, I’ll stand in front of them and play until they are following my bass.
I consider it sort of a “Free Range” drum circle. Some folks in the drum circle community might call it Hippie Thunder Drum style, but to me once you hit that groove, there is nothing sweeter in this human experience. I actually do a good share of facilitation in leading the group, but I try to keep it subtle, almost subliminal. I want folks to leave thinking they had a great time rather than contemplating how well they were able to follow what I told them to do. I understand that I am actually, at least in part, compensating for my own sense of insecurity and lack of advanced drumming skills. Still, because most of the people attending my circles are casual drummers, it seems to work quite well with those groups.
I love playing along with the great facilitators. As two examples of the awesome facilitators we have, Arthur Hull or Kalani can literally do more with one eyebrow than I can accomplish with my whole body. All praise to the masters!
Me, I am just a hack that fell in love with the groove and who enjoys creating orgies of sound.