Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Takoma Park Drummers

Wednesday night is officially "drum night" in Washington D.C.

Over the past year I've seen pictures and videos pop up on my Facebook feed every Thursday capturing the previous night's magic. I finally experienced it for myself last week.

The event, held at The Electric Maid in Takoma Park, offers a first-class opportunity for beginners and seasoned drummers alike to drum from 7-930 every Wednesday. (The spring season ends tonight with the weekly events returning this fall.)

As I drove past looking for parking, with four friends in tow, we could hear the loud rumbling of drums, even at a few minutes past seven. We were warmly greeted as we entered and encouraged to try the dozens of drums and percussion instruments the organizers graciously shared.

Many of the facilitators and drummers looked familiar as I've been to a number of similar events in the D.C. area. They are truly a unique and incredible music community. At the forefront is Katy Gaughan, a full-time percussionist and drum circle facilitator. I've known Katy for a few years now and her work is quite remarkable. (I plan to dedicate a future post to her story.)

My friends and I were led through a couple hours of joyous drumming, singing, and dancing. People of all ages and backgrounds celebrated tremendously, in what was an otherwise difficult week for our nation.

I wish every community had a weekly event like this. One of my friends, new to the drum circle experience said on the ride home, "That was exactly what I needed."

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Sharing Love With Pigtown

Just before I left for Monday afternoon's guitar lesson, the AP app on my phone flashed a message saying a couple explosions occurred in Boston.

About halfway through the lesson with the 8-year-old girl, her 10-year-old brother walked into the room. "Did you hear what happened at the marathon?" he asked.

I responded, "Yes, I heard there was an explosion," and intended to leave it at that. He insisted on learning more and turned on the computer. There I sat watching, for my first time and theirs, two bombs detonate among a sea of people. The girl asked me why someone would do that. She also asked why our Army wasn't able to stop it.

I had to share the harsh truth that we can't always stop bad people from doing bad things. However, what we do have control of are ourselves and the best way to contribute to a better world is to share our love. I told them of the incredible power that music holds in bringing people together in a positive, loving way. A perfect example being the drum circle I helped facilitate this past weekend. I showed them pictures, explaining that I went into a community where no one knew who I was. I helped provide the opportunity for people of all ages to make music together, most who had never played before. But the power of drums revealed itself instantly and without fail.

With love, I'd like to share some of the memories with you too.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Pigtown's "Spring Into Health" Festival

Pigtown Spring Into Health Festival 2012

"Ketchup on my body, ketchup on my soul. Ketchup on everything!"

That's the line I'll remember most from last year's "Spring Into Health" Festival. During the two-hour drum circle I facilitated in the southwest Baltimore neighborhood, two preteen boys improvised a melody and lyric. We drummed in celebration of their condiment of choice.

This Saturday, I'll be returning to the annual community festival in Pigtown. The neighborhood is located right by the Ravens and Orioles stadiums, the B&O Railroad Museum, and is the birthplace of Babe Ruth. The festival is organized by Paul's Place, a community center well-known for its programs and services benefiting neighbors who need it most.

Jason of R:evolution Rhythm
This year I'm excited to be co-facilitating with Jason Armstrong Baker of R:evolution Rhythm. I met Jason during a group drumming demonstration he led at Sheppard Pratt in 2010. Jason is a board-certified music therapist and one of the first facilitators I connected with. We went to Princeton, NJ together that September to become trained in the evidenced-based, HealthRHYTHMS protocol. Jason currently runs a weekly workshop with teens at Paul's Place so he and I working together this weekend is a natural fit.

Last year I was joined by participants of all ages and walks of life. The community members, venders, and volunteers shared great feedback and seemed to appreciate my contributions. Many said that Beatwell provided the "heartbeat," injecting life and a positive pulse into the festival. I'm honored to be asked back and can only hope those two boys show up.

Ketchup on everything, indeed!

Pigtown Spring Into Health Festival 2012