The rhythm is in your blood.
Music, for me, is a river, flowing through my life. I can’t remember not singing. I can’t remember not sitting at the piano, exploring, seeing what beautiful sounds I could make. I sang so my Barbies could sing to each other, then in school, Community Theater, synagogue. I wrote a song about my brother and kept writing. As an adult, there was summer stock, Off-Broadway, piano bars and cabarets. I wrote musical theater pieces that got produced! When I became a mom, something I had always wanted to be, I started working with music and kids, so I could be available to my own. That’s when I started to drum.
I was working as a Teaching Artist for Lincoln Center Institute, prepping kids to appreciate Stavinsky’s chamber piece, L’Histoire du Soldat, and I had the kids make homemade percussion instruments and play together, to help them understand ensemble playing. I watched the kids improvise, be in the moment with the music, unhampered by a lack of technical skill or an inability to read music, and it hit me. I should do this. I should drum with lots of people. That would really be fun.
At that moment, I thought that I, personally, had invented the drum circle. Of course, I hadn’t. A little research quickly showed me that there have been drum circles probably as long as there have been people. More research, and I learned that drumming could help people in many different ways. I studied teambuilding at the Cornell School of Labor and Industrial Relations, so I could apply drumming to the corporate world. I developed programs for pre-school kids and seniors. I worked with teachers, developing programs to enrich curriculum. I went to drum manufacturing giant, Remo Drums, to learn their HealthRhythms, a drumming protocol clinically proven to reduce stress and raise the T-cell or fighter cell count in cancer patients. HealthRhythms became a powerful tool for me in sessions for pediatric and adult cancer patients, people with other serious diseases, people dealing with crippling emotional issues. These experiences became the basis of my DEEP DOWN music video project, to benefit sick kids.
By now, I’ve worked with thousands of people, all ages, every ethnic, religious, and demographic group. Every group has been different and yet, the same. Each experience has been filled with wonder. Joy. The elation of discovery. No matter the age, job title, or the challenges people have, their faces come alive when they drum. Tension melts away from their bodies as they wade in the river of music and lose themselves in rhythm and the joy of the group.
Music, for me, is a river, flowing through my life, always there, always magical. Drum circles help me share the river with whoever shows up, whoever wants to heal, play, breathe deep, laugh, smile, make friends, and celebrate life to the beat of a drum.
Come play! Come play! I hope I’ll see you soon!
© Saragail Benjamin 2014
Join us for a Drum Circle with Saragail Benjamin, 7:30 -9:00pm, Saturday, August 23rd, at Heart of the Village Yoga Studio. Families welcome. No experience necessary. Drums provided. Fee: $10. To register, contact Jo at 802.379.4514 or firstname.lastname@example.org