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How to Run a Drum Circle
By:Jo Burns

Many drum circles are loosely organized and exist spontaneously without leadership in a "tribal" or "jam" style. But others are more directed, sometimes combining a certain type of drumming, such as African or Native American drumming, with meditation or healing work. If you would like to run a drum circle, it is important to remember that people come to such gatherings with different expectations and different levels of experience. It is your responsibility to create a comfortable atmosphere for everyone.

Select a regular place and time for your drum circle to meet. Your circle will be much better attended if drummers know the schedule is consistent. Contact music stores, community centers and alternative healing centers if you are looking for a venue.

Maintain a small supply of inexpensive hand drums, rattles, bells and percussion instruments for people to use when they don't bring their own.

Establish the purpose of your drum circle and write some guidelines that will help you realize that purpose. Make copies of the guidelines and give them to people when you invite them to the circle. For instance, if you want to run a musically-challenging circle for experienced, adult drummers, then note that children and beginners are not welcome. Labeling your gathering as a "community drum circle" indicates a more relaxed experience where everyone can play.

Offer a short teaching 15 minutes before the circle begins and invite newcomers to join even if they are experienced drummers. During the teaching, you can quickly explain the circle's protocol as well as give instructions for playing a drum.

Move around the circle while drumming. Take turns sitting next to new people and inconspicuously help them learn a new rhythm. Your presence may also help overly-forceful drummers to calm down and play with the circle instead of at it.