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Open Drum Circle of Rochester, NY Pages

Meet other local hand drummers, percussionists, and other kinds of musicians interested in playing in drum circles. Experience and ownership of equipment aren't required, as we encourage sharing and mutual respect. Sessions might occasionally include instruction and technique before open circles start.

Please also see the Table of Contents for a (growing) collection of links.


Q. How often will we meet?
A. Perhaps once or twice a month to start, assuming we find a location. Likely Saturdays, late afternoon or early evenings, though we might try Fridays or Sundays. Time depends on availability of locations.

Q. Does this cost anything?
A. Currently I (Dave) cover the cost of the meetup site. Currently we ask that members pay $10 for the entire year. But, they can kick in whatever they have, even just a dollar or two. I'm using the dues for paying for the site and equipment purchase and maintenance.

Q. Do I need experience?
A. No. If you can clap, you can drum. If you're willing to learn and experiment with various techniques and drums, you might discover you can do quite a bit.

Q. What if I don't own anything?
A. "Organizer Dave" probably has enough extra percussion to "arm" an entire group, but he can't promise specific instruments in sufficient quantities unless he charges serious $. At most drum circles, people bring plenty to share.

Q. Should I go buy anything?
A. Better you should wait to see what people play. Some stuff is very expensive. You may discover an interest in a certain brand or type of drum. Eventually, if you continue to gain interest, buying a drum (or supplementing a collection) can be fun.

Q. How structured is the circle?
A. Our circles might start off with some instruction to help newcomers, but ideally we will be able to communicate by listening to each other, trading musical ideas, and helping form communal rhythms. The forums will likely have lively discussion at some point given the diversity of styles and interests :-)

Q. What kind of drumming can/will we do?
A. We'll try to focus on hand drumming (eg, djembe) and assorted percussion (eg, blocks and bells). Bringing a 20-piece drumset isn't a good idea. Actually, ideas and rhythms will emerge after we play for awhile.

Q. Can we dance? Can we invite dancers?
A. Assuming we have the space, yes.

Q. Is this a religious group? Will we be praying to anyone/anything?
A. No. Sometimes drum circles involve prayer or worship, but not this one. However, there are meditative techniques that might pop up now and then.

Q. Can we bring melodic instruments?
A. Yes, but bear in mind that we're talking about DRUMS here, and maybe quite a lot of them. Flutes, pipes, and other wind instruments stand a chance at being heard. Actually, I usually bring a glockenspiel, and sometimes we have even electric guitars!

Q. How about singing?
A. Chanting and voices tend to contribute very nicely, especially when words aren't involved :-) Actually, there's such a thing as a "voice/harmonic circle," which is quite amazing when people find communal harmonies.

Q. Can my kids come along?
A. I recommend leaving young children behind when we play at someone's house.

Q. Any tips for beginners?
A. YouTube is awash with "how-to" videos (e.g., "Djembe 101"). Often I recommend tapping along with music that you like, especially songs that tend to be "dancy," as they mirror many basic rhythms. Another important tip: practice leading with your opposite hand so that BOTH hands become stronger and more agile.

Q. Are there "rules"?
A. Kind of...more like principles and etiquette. Here are some principles I've offered as advice:

  • Space is more important than sound (i.e., musicians talk of "rests" and "notes"). Having folks play very simple beats helps bring everyone together (and you can rest your hands).
  • A drumcircle is like a democracy. We elect leaders, but they step down to allow new leaders (i.e., take turns). See the next point--knowing when to lead and knowing when to follow all involve listening and sharing.
  • Drumcircles are like conversations. If we all talk simultaneously, we can't hear each other. But if we listen and exchange ideas, we have a conversation. So, listen...focus on what others do and allow yourself to contribute...if everyone listens, then we all play together.

Table of Contents

Page title Most recent update Last edited by
Links January 24, 2010 7:59 PM Dave
Videos of us November 7, 2009 9:18 PM Dave
About Open Drum Circle of Rochester, NY September 9, 2013 2:10 PM Dave

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