Boston Drum Circle Pages

Boston Drumming Circle Format and Philosophy


Joining The Community
A drumming circle is, quite simply, a community. When you come to the circle, it is because you are choosing to participate and be part of this community. We welcome you to join us because together we are deeper, richer, and stronger than we are alone.

Active Listening With Your Drum
In order for us to participate in community, it is important to hold open space for others to join in your rhythm and to listen for spaces in others’ rhythms for you to join in theirs. Listening, responding, and allowing the ebb and flow of the beat to sustain us is what makes the space magical.

The Dancers
The definition of a dancer: anyone who brings movement to the circle. The dancers create the movement of the circle. All of the moving groups dance together in harmony – leaving space for all to have their times of movement. The dance too has an ebb and flow, moments of frantic spinning, moments of quiet creeping, moments of animal stalking and more visit our circle. Here all are sustained and all are welcome.

Djembe Cowboys Just Need Love
We encourage everyone to be a seamless, integral part of the community. But occasionally people need more attention. In other groups, these people are often referred to as “Djembe Cowboys” – the people who stomp on the rhythm and take over the space with their hot dogging. In Native American tradition, when a member of the tribe did something that was counter to the best interests of the tribe (and therefore counter to their own best interests as a member of that tribe), they were brought into a circle and reminded of how they were part of the tribe. This was done through loving appreciation and open, welcoming acceptance. The person would be reminded of how they are connected to the tribe through shared experience and memory as well as through love. This is how we as a community will work with our members who need a little extra attention.

Allowing Space for Witnessing
If someone needs a place to shine because they are not feeling seen, then we will offer it to them willingly. When someone is stepping on the rhythm, we encourage you to stop drumming and listen to their offering. As the silence around them descends, they can have their moment to be truly seen and appreciated. Once they feel complete, they can welcome us back in to the rhythm by starting a call and response rhythm. And the beat will go on from there.

The Altar
Before each event, a volunteer or volunteers will set up the altar in the middle of the space. This space holds the energy of the intention for each circle. The intentions will shift from week to week and it is up to the person(s) creating the altar to choose an appropriate theme. (If you would like to volunteer for altar service but need help coming up with a theme, ask the organizers, we’re happy to help.) Please be respectful of the altar space and the items on it. Do not pick things up without permission and make sure to leave a wide berth so that you don’t inadvertently step on the altar while you are dancing.

All Experience Levels Are Welcome
Many of us began our drumming experience by attending a drum circle and trying fit in. We spent many hours sitting with our hands on our drum heads feeling the rhythm and finding the place where we fit in – even if it was just holding the bass beat and nothing else. No matter whether you are an experienced drummer who knows all of the traditional rhythms from many nations or you’re picking up a drum for the first time in your life, we’re happy to have you. Please come out and join us.

Beginners Classes
Many of our members are experienced drummers and have a wealth of knowledge about drumming rhythms, techniques, and history. Occasionally, our members agree to teach classes to the beginners. When these classes happen, they are announced on the list and they generally take place just before a circle so that you can learn and then put what you learn into practice. Generally, the classes are a donation of $5-$10 sliding scale. This is not a charge for the class, but an acknowledgement of appreciation to the teacher. If you would like to offer something more personal as a token, that is appreciated as well. A beginners class is not required to attend a circle, but they are good ways to learn more and to grow as a drummer.

Cost for Circles
If we can, we make the circles free. Sadly, occasionally we do have to pay for the spaces in which we hold our events, so we have to charge members to attend to pay for the space. This is as close to a break-even as we can get it. (Some events we’ll collect more than we need, others a little less and we use the overage from previous events to cover the shortfall.) The cost of an event is determined by the space rental fees for that location. There is always a sliding scale set up for those who can’t afford to come and members who have a little extra are encouraged to offer up a donation so that those who can’t afford even the sliding scale can come. If you are someone who needs to attend the events for free, consider volunteering (see below).


Opening the Circle
At the beginning of each circle, we will open with an invitation for each person to say their name and to share what they bring with them to the circle that evening. You may bring joy and hope or frustration and anger or confusion or inspiration or something else entirely. We bring what we have and all things we bring are gifts that fuel the circle.

Statement of the Pledges
Then we will ask the groups to identify by dancer or drummer (yes, you can be in both groups if you like) and to state the vows written below, This sets the intention for the space and gives each group their place in the circle.

The Drummer’s Pledge to the Dancers
Dancers, you are the movement to our rhythm. Play in the beat, feel into the emotions that run under the rhythm, bring forth the dance that calls to your soul. We encourage you to play with us, engage us, challenge us, and bring our beat into human form. We vow to hold you with the rhythm, serving as the foundation for your dance.

The Dancers’ Pledge to the Drummers
Drummers, you are the floor on which we move, you hold us up and inspire our dance. Feel beyond the set beats of the moment into the spirit spaces between – the places that call to you and move you. We hear the call too. Together we bring this inspiration to life, your beat and our movement. We will move the energy that feeds you and sustains you. No matter how long the rhythm may hold you – we will hold you too.

Finding the Rhythm
Then we will sit with our drums and the dancers will poise themselves for movement. We will listen for the rhythm of group, feeling into the moment. When someone feels called to begin, dancer or drummer, they will start and the circle sets off from there. This is a place for intuition and form – standard and traditional beats are welcome, but they are not required. Here we listen to the music of our spirit and we bring that into the world through our hands and bodies.

The Quiet Spaces
At some point, the rhythm will ebb and there will be a moment of silence. This is the time when voices, softer instruments, and hand clapping/softer rhythms come into focus. In the softness of the sound, different spaces are found for movement and for reflection. Relax into the quiet respite.

Welcoming New Community Members
At roughly the midpoint of the event, we’ll break to welcome the new members to the community. Each member will be invited to share a rhythm or movement that represents them and to have that reflected back to them as the community’s acknowledgement of welcome and acceptance.

Before we go back to the drumming, we will check in. This is the time for people to say how they are feeling, make requests of the circle, and generally offer feedback for the event. Once check-ins are complete, we will once again convene in the circle and feel into the next rhythm to sustain the second half of the event.

Closing The Circle
At the end of the event, there will be a closing of the circle. We will acknowledge and reflect on our experience of the moment and share our energies with the world around us.

Acknowledgements and Volunteering Time
This is the time when we acknowledge the members who have contributed to the circle and ask for volunteers for upcoming events. This will include giving thanks to the people who helped to promote the events on the web and through flyers, those who created the altar space, took admission donations at the door and helped with setup/teardown. At this time, we’ll also ask for volunteers who are willing to stay after the event to help with teardown and for volunteers to do the next altar and to work the door for the next event. Those who create the altar space (up to a maximum of 2 people) and work the door get into that event for free.

Just before the final closing, there will be time for announcements. This is the time to invite members of our community to share other events, knowledge, or performances with you. You may bring flyers with you to the events and leave them on a table for those who may be interested in learning more.

Organizing and Facilitating Events
If you would like to organize an event in your area, speak to the Organizer for the group. We will help you determine a good time and day for the event as well as suggesting possible sites to hold the event. We can also help you get your event listed on the group site.

Listing Other Groups’ Events
If you know of another group that is holding an event that you would like to add to the events calendar, please contact the organizer for that event to make sure it is OK to list their event on our calendar. While you are speaking with them, let them know about our events and ask if they would like to cross-promote on a regular basis. If they are willing to have us list their event, contact the Events Organizer with the groups’ contact information and the details about the circle and the Events Organizer will add it to the site. We would like to know about as many other events as possible. If we can get a large number of circles listed on our site, then we will become THE place to come to learn about drum circles in the Boston area.

Table of Contents

Page title Most recent update Last edited by
About Boston Drum Circle April 23, 2009 5:29 PM Kelle S.

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