Monday, February 25, 2013

An Inspiration: The Work of Jim Donovan

Sitting in a room with 20 strangers, drumming and singing a traditional Congolese song is not how I typically spend a Friday night. This was way better.

My Google search into the world of group drumming started after a meeting with four other graduate students. The five of us were expected to write a research paper and present on a specific group therapy. The population and intervention was up to us. The group picked kids with ADHD and I sold them on drumming. Now it was time to figure out what the hell I was actually going to do.

Jim Donovan was one of the first names to pop up. Jim is a founding member of the multi-platinum group, Rusted Root. Now married with three daughters, he teaches at Saint Francis University in Pennsylvania and is a legitimate tour-de-force in the "group drumming for wellness" movement. He has developed and shares a variety of drumming workshops all over the world. These include workshops designed for corporate organizations, therapists, educators, and other "helping" professionals, and the general public.
Jim brought his two-hour "Rhythm Renewal" program to Baltimore County. What an incredible experience! He provided full-sized djembes—most imported from Africa—for everyone to use. The group was a mix of "drummers" and "non-drummers," but Jim had the group drumming within minutes. Aside from Jim's obvious musical strengths, he is a great facilitator and motivator. From the start he eased any insecurities and trepidation. As I like to say, "It's not a performance, it's just play." He encouraged to respond to musical "mistakes" with a smile. Good stuff.

The program was rooted in wellness and community-building. Jim led us through many exercises—with and without drums—reminding us to do so with intention and mindfulness of the moment. Personally, it was an honor to meet and thank him for trailblazing a path which I have chosen. Jim is one of the few doing this work at a professional and consistent level. The fact that he is as friendly as he is impressive made the experience all the more enjoyable.

Check out all of Jim's upcoming workshops!

1 comment:

  1. It was great sharing this experience with you!