As a drum music facilitator, my goal is to create a positive, welcoming environment and engage everyone. There should be no physical barriers to playing a drum and participating. In order to ensure that everyone is able to play, I bring a variety of tools to my music circles. Some of them I buy, and others I make. Here they are:
Mallets and Brushes
These can be used on a variety of drums. They are great for people with less dexterity in their hands. Someone with arthritis, for example, might feel more confident and at ease by hitting the drum at a distance, rather than using their hands or fingers.
Frame Drum Mount Riser
This is a great option for securing a drum onto a wheelchair. It can easily be made from a children’s pool noodle. You start by cutting sections approximately 3-8 inches in length. Cut a slit through the center and then fasten the sections onto a Remo Sound Shape. This mount can be placed on top of a wheelchair table with a piece of non-slip matting to prevent the drum from sliding about.
Velcro Super Drum Glove
In the spring of 2013 I was privileged to deliver a drum circle music workshop at a cerebral palsy retreat. During the drum celebration there was a gentleman who demonstrated a great passion for playing the drums. He had cerebral palsy, which can cause some jerking motions, but that did not stop him from participating.
While using a mallet to play a large surdo-type drum, he periodically lost control of the mallet and it came out of his hands. Thankfully one of the organizers retrieved it for him. She later gave me a great idea: to velcro a mallet to a glove.
It’s a very simple project. You start with taking some double-sided tape and wrapping it around the bottom part of the mallet. Then you wrap a strip of Velcro around the double-sided tape. The last step is to secure the Velcro with some duct tape at the higher end of the stick. I suggest using a lightweight mallet and a glove that is light and flexible.
There are some individuals that might not feel comfortable playing a drum. It can be the size or unfamiliarity of the instrument that makes them uneasy. This is when it’s great to be able to offer them a set of maracas, a tambourine, or a small shaker.
I remember a couple years ago when I was working with my local Dementia/Alzheimer’s society. There was one gentleman who was unresponsive when we tried to give him an instrument. I’ve learned from past experiences that the best thing to do is leave an instrument nearby, give them their space, and not pressure them to join in. By doing so, you are providing them with an opportunity to just observe and listen to the music that is being created. It usually isn’t long before they come to feel more comfortable and begin participating.
After a few minutes, I noticed that this gentleman was tapping his foot along to the music that we were all creating. So I took a foot tambourine and placed it onto his tapping foot. To see his smile and how he became more aware of his surroundings was an experience that I will never forget.
About Jeff Stewart
Jeff is currently facilitating “Spirit of World Drumming Circles” for music educators and drumming enthusiasts of all ages. He promotes the spiritual and health benefits of drumming and continues to show that there are no barriers to participating in the making of music. Jeff is a dedicated educator who facilitates drum circles in his community, music festivals, senior homes, local Dementia/Alzheimer’s day programs, continuing care centers, various education environments, as well as team-building and corporate training sessions.
Jeff is also the author of Spirit of World Drumming: Drum Circle Fun for all Ages (Mel Bay), Rhythmic Kinesthetics (Alfred Music Publications), three Kindle eBooks: Art of Playing the Doumbek, Garrahand Drumming, and a children’s book, Jeffrey Discovers Drumming. He is a musician, composer, and artist.
Jeff has just finished producing the documentary Health Benefits of Drumming. It is available to order at www.SpiritofWorldDrumming.com .