The beat goes on...

Newly formed drum circle
attracts inquisitive newcomers

No experience, talent required
to participate in monthly event

By Konnie McCollum
Staff Writer

If you find yourself tapping out little rhythms on the dinner table with your silverware, or you can’t help but use your pencil as a drumstick during quiet time, you may be interested in a newly formed drumming group.

Fernando Rubio and Cerl Marriage

Photo by Konnie McCollum

Fernando Rubio and Cheryl Marriage
play the African congas as they
lead drummers in a rhythm.

The Blue Spirit Drumming Circle meets twice a month at 7 p.m. Friday evenings at The Birdhouse’s second-floor Discovery Center, 108 E. Main St., Madison. Since its formation in January, people of all ages and backgrounds have been getting together to jam and socialize.
“You do not have to have one ounce of skill, talent or ability,” said Fernando Rubio, the facilitator. “Just come ready to relax and have some fun.”
A drum circle is simply a group of percussion players who typically sit in a circle. The facilitator will begin a rhythm and then others join in with whatever instrument and rhythm they feel like doing.
“Drumming is the oldest form of musical expression,” said Rubio, who works in the international sales department at Rotary Lift. “Drums have been used for ages for a multitude of celebrations, including birth, death and marriage. It’s a great way to unite a community or crowd.”
At the March 13 drum circle, drummers brought a variety of drums with them, including large congas, bongos, a box drum, a shaman drum and several sizes of African djembe drums. At previous meetings there have been tambourines, an Australian dijorido, which is a stick-like instrument, and even cowbells, spoons and shakers.
Retired librarian Cheryl Marriage was one of the new drummers at the meeting. She had heard about the drum circle and had finally decided to try it out. “I like how the drum makes me feel,” she said. Her drum was a Bodhran, or Irish frame drum.
Pam Brown, an environmental technician, said she had seen an impromptu drum circle break out during her sister’s birthday party at the Thomas Family Winery last year and was impressed.
“I didn’t realize people with no talent or rhythm could actually play,” she said. “I decided to come try it out tonight because it sounded fun.” She brought with her a mid-sized African djembe.
Kelly Misamore, who along with husband, David, owns The Birdhouse, also attended. “We just like to bang on stuff,” she said. “It seems to help block out the world and helps relieve stress.”
Periodically, the facilitator will stop the rhythm, and someone will start a new one. Rubio brought music to accompany the drumming during the March session. Although the group tried to vary the rhythm, it always ended in a four-beat pattern, which Rubio said was the “natural rhythm.”
“There are really no rules to the circle,” he said. “Just let yourself go and enjoy the freedom of the rhythm.” He led the rhythm with a pair of large red congas, and occasionally switched to a small pair of bongos and a unique box-like instrument brought by John Walburn. The small box made different sounds depending on where it was struck.
“The beauty of this is you can’t mess up or fail,” said Walburn, the chairperson for the Ohio River Valley Folk Festival. He and his son, Geoff Walburn, brought a variety of drums with them, including “talking” drums that change their tone when their strings are squeezed.
Geoff, a local chiropractor, was playing a large box drum.
Rubio stressed the drum circle is open to anyone who wants to drum on something. He hopes to fill up the Discovery Center with drummers. During the warmer months, the Blue Spirit Drumming Circle plans to meet out in the open – possibly by the Broadway Fountain or other public places so more people can see what happens during a drumming session.

• For more information about the Blue Spirit Drumming Circle, call Fernando Rubio at (812) 265-4446.

Back to April 2009 Articles.



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