GC’s Community Drumming Group strays from traditional drum styles to strengthen the bond between students and community members in a relaxed, enjoyable environment.
Christopher Karow, a graduate music therapy student, explained that the group is open to all community members and students. The sessions last for an hour and are occasionally held outside. Usually eight to 12 people attend but he hopes the group will continue to grow.
“Sometimes there is a lot of fear in meeting new people, so I felt like promoting the drum circle would help bring people together that wouldn’t normally be together,” Karow said.
“It’s a great energetic release,” said Jesse Griggs, a Milledgeville community member.
Griggs also said that it helps him build up energy to go about his day. He leaves feeling happy and uplifted.
“When I hit the drum for the first time, it became more than just a way to get my [clinical] hours completed,” said sophomore Grace Englert, a music therapy major. “The experience allows for the participants to step out of their comfort zones and to open their minds.”
Englert also said that drumming helps her relieve her anxiety because it makes her forget about whatever might be stressing her.
“I leave the sessions much more relaxed than I had been at the start,” Englert said.
Karow is currently writing a guidebook for future group facilitators to study. He says facilitators are not limited to music therapy majors. Anyone can become one after a short training session.
“We focus on facilitating the group instead of leading the group, and we try to sort of get a creative collective,” said Karow. “I might start out a pattern but let the group members enter in with their own voice and create their own sound based on their original pattern.”
Karow said different percussion instruments are used to build soundscapes, or new songs. Sometimes popular songs are played during the sessions.
“We decided to sing songs [at specific gathering] over a drumbeat, and then we did a mashup and combined the two songs,” said Karow. “Then layered them in harmony, but it was totally the group’s idea. It developed organically.”
Traditional drum circles only use jimbe, a chalice shaped drum with an animal skin covering and vertical ropes surrounding the basin to change the sound. Karow said he wants to introduce new, unusual instruments to the group like the tank drum, a propane tank turned into a drum. He also tries to give history behind each instrument.
The group has previously been asked to play at Carlyle Place in Macon, and they have been invited to play at an international club dinner and the Art Healthy Fair late this year.
The sessions are held Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m. and Fridays at 2 p.m. in room 103 of the Health Sciences building.