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Mechanics of music: Create sense of community with drum circle

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A drum circle is music’s ultimate all-inclusive event.

No lengthy training is needed to sit in. No one can mess it up by playing the wrong note. The more different sounds and tones that are made, the stronger the circle becomes.

All it takes is a willingness to follow the rhythm and pound out a tune, organizer Julia Childs-Helton said.

“As most people will tell you, they pulled out the pots and pans at least once as a child to bang on them,” she said. “Because we’re born human, we’re born as artists, musicians and dancers. It’s a basic human way to express oneself.”


What: Drumming to the Beat of the Community

When: 6 to 8 p.m. Nov. 8

Where: Branigin Room of the Napolitan Student Center, off South Forsythe Street on Franklin College’s campus.

Cost: Free

Information: 738-8185

To help foster community through music, Franklin College will play host to “Drumming to the Beat of the Community.” People of all ages and skill types will be invited to sit down and play the drums together at 6 p.m. Nov. 8.

Music historians will talk about the role of the drum circle over time and how music can bring people together.

There’s something soothing about getting together in a circle to drum and play music, Childs-Helton said.

“The drum circle is very attractive because it gives people who may not have experience (a chance) to make music,” she said. “And it’s just a whole lot of fun.”

She has taught world music and drumming workshops at the university level throughout the world. Twice a year, she gathers women together in a retreat for drumming weekends, which she helped found.

When not teaching, Childs-Helton performs improvisational music with her husband and other ensembles throughout the United States, Britain and Canada. She’s also an archivist at Butler University.

She has been involved with the Spirit and Place Festival for all 17 years of its existence.

“This festival is important because I don’t know how much access people have on a regular basis to programs like this,” she said. “This idea that people can come together to make music is unique.”

The program is a collaboration between Childs-Helton, an Indianapolis-based percussionist and music educator, and Franklin College music professor Kevin Burke.

Drum circles have been part of world culture for thousands of years. Ancient civilizations used them as ceremonies and gathering points.

Modern movements have come to recognize the benefits. Drum circles have been shown to help relieve stress and lower blood pressure.

Circles have been implemented in hospitals and retirement facilities to relax patients, Childs-Helton said.

“A big focus is how music can be a reflection of community,” Burke said. “We want to look at how liberating it is to do something like this, with everyone caught up in the stress and fast pace of the world.”

All people are invited to participate in the free program in the Branigin Room of Franklin College’s Napolitan Student Center. They can bring their own drums, or drums will be provided for them.

“The concept of play means people can come together from different parts of the community and play together,” Burke said. “It’s a medium that everyone can come together around.”

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