Spoiler alert – it never left. And there may be a circle in a town near you. Why not see what it’s all about? And if you can’t find one near you, why not start one?
Drum circles have been around for thousands of years. The oldest drum dates back to China but it has been a part of every ancient culture, especially in Africa, where it gained tremendous popularity and then spread to many other countries.
In Africa, drums were a critical way for villages to communicate with each other and were used in all forms of celebration. In colonial times, drums were used to help soldiers march in step. In many cultures, shamans used drums to achieve a trance like state in sacred healing rituals. In America, much of our drumming history dates back to the Native Americans who believe that the drum represents the heartbeat of Mother Earth.
Even more interesting, there’s a scientific reason why drumming speaks to us. If you’ve ever been to a live music performance and felt that vibration in your chest, you will know this to be true. It actually pulls you in. The reason is that when we were in our mother’s womb, the dominant sound we heard was her heartbeat so the sound of a drum or any rhythmic pattern can simulate that to our brains, making us feel connected, safe, and soothed.
In addition, it’s a way to foster community. We have become a society of fearful, isolated, and polarized individuals at a time when it’s imperative to come together. I have attended several drum circles and every single person I have met, without exception, has been completely warm, kind, and accepting. There will usually be a leader who will start a drum pattern or teach some history about the type of drum beat being played, so it’s educational as well.
If you don’t have a drum, there will sometimes be an extra one in the middle of the circle to share. Or you can get creative - bring something made of wood to bang on or two wooden or metal spoons, maracas, or another instrument you may play. One person brought singing bowls, another brought his handpan, another sang. All are welcome to bring their unique gifts and talents to the circle.
At times, it takes a minute to find that sweet spot where everything comes together and everyone is totally in sync but when it happens, you will feel the magic and you will understand what so many generations before us have always understood. The most important thing, the only thing we need to know right now, is that we are all connected on this crazy planet. Let’s remember that.