Welcome to Drum Circle World
Website updated September 2016. I’m based in St. Louis, MO. Click the orange play buttons below and listen to a few of my drum circle mp3s. All different cultures, tempos, and organic. That’s how I facilitate drum circles for most groups. Scroll down for lots more info about drum circles, and my 2 hour 101 Drum Circle Rhythms video.
Help support the work I do in the community, and website by picking up a drum circle mp3 track on iTunes or the full 2 hours for $10. There’s a variety of live drum circle jams, or my 101 Drum Circle Rhythms Audio – Video – Just search on the title. Use the link for drum jam mp3s. A track is $1. or you can get 2 hours of drum circle action for about $10.
Or, or click the CDbaby.com link http://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/SLRatigan
My 300 page book on hand drumming, drum circles, and facilitating them is 8. On Kindle or Nook. You can read the first few chapters free with the look inside feature.
I’ve taken some heat over the years for sharing what some feel is too much info about facilitating. When I was young and coming up, many musicians helped me, so I’m trying to carry on that tradition. I believe we ahould be supportive, try to work together, and help each other develop as artists.
My website is for hand drummers, facilitators, music therapists, and teachers. Also ways to start up a drum circle, and tips to keep it fresh and interesting, or for anyone who just loves drumming. If you are brand new (or exp.) to drum circles, there’s a lot here to explain the different kinds, or make improvements to yours. (Please scroll down a little to watch a sample of my 101 Drum Circle Rhythms video on YouTube.)
Anyway, I’m a drum circle facilitator, session musician, & hand drumming teacher based in Saint Louis. Please read on, and you’ll find out more about facilitated & non-facilitated drum circles.
One of my favorite drum circles, from Mardi Gras. If you have a heartbeat, you can play drum circle rhythms. (Even if you think you don’t have rhythm.) Drum circles put some good out in the world. They bring people together from different paths, and we make music. Better yet, socially it helps us learn to accept other people’s differences. In a small way, drum circles help to bring people from different cultures together all around the world.
So why even have a drum circle? This 4 minute video below by Healing Quest sums it up nicely. I’m not affiliated with them. I like the video, and want to share it.
A little about me: I’ve been attending drum circles for about 30 years, and facilitating them for a living for about 15. If you enjoy the sound of drums, are thinking about going to a drum circle, maybe starting one up, need some new rhythm ideas, or the idea of facilitating them for fun and/or profit interests you, then have a look around my site. I’m an independent musician based in St. Louis. Check the drum circle finder link above and see what’s going on near you, (or if you are traveling somewhere and get your drum on!)
If you can pick up my drum rhythms DVD, drum circle book on Kindle, or some of my digital music it will help out. The proceeds help to keep everything going, and I’ll be able to continue working with organizations who benefit from drum circles the most. I get no funding or grants.
Amazon Link: My 101 Drum Circle Rhythms DVD on Amazon Page Link
I offer facilitated drum circles for various groups around Saint Louis County, drum circle facilitation training, and hand drumming lessons. But my website is also here to assist hand drummers, drum circle facilitators, music therapists, and teachers. There are lots of ideas, suggestions, and experiences. My hope is that some of it helps you along your drumming journey. Also ways to start up a drum circle, tips to keep it fresh and interesting, or anyone who just plain loves drum circles.
There’s a menu at the top – check out the facilitation tab – it has ideas and suggestions for drum circles with children, adults, seniors, special needs, and more. Also check out my drum circle finder (updated every other week since 1999.), the 101 Drum Circle Rhythms DVD video sample, and lots of drum circle related posts on my drumming blog. Scroll down a bit, and there’s some live drum circle mp3’s, djembe ringtones, notated rhythms print outs, and lots more stuff for drummers, or people who just love the groove of live drumming.
Use the drum circle finder tab on the menu to locate drum circles that are near you, drum circle groups, and etc. It’s a free service to drummers and dancers updated weekly since 1999.
To get information and/or ideas and suggestions about facilitating or hosting drum circles for various groups such as with kids, special needs, seniors, team building or the general public, click on the menu tab “drum circle facilitation” above. Sharing, and helping other musicians to grow is what being a musician is all about.
These days, I provide therapeutic music in the form of drumming lessons, facilitated drum circles to mostly non-profit groups; specifically senior centers, kids’ organizations, disabled, veterans, events, the general public, and special needs groups.
A facilitated drum circle is unlike the common free style drum circles many are aware of. It’s organized therapeutic music that is accessible to everyone, and that people of all ages can pick up very quickly.
To start out a beat, I use a vocalization technique where I create rhymes, jingles, or simple chants that match the rhythm, and then we simply translate that to drum beats, and play them slowly for a few minutes until it is locked in – then we bring it up to tempo. This makes it much easier for people to remember, it helps them find the rhythm quickly, and they don’t over-think things. Since rhythms are repetitive, no matter what the variety of skill levels are, everyone can pick it up at their own pace, and in a matter of minutes.
I introduce rhythms from various cultures from around the world. I provide the instruments from different cultures also – instructions on proper hand technique, volume, and help people empower themselves by learning hand drumming. I worked with a neurologist in Florida regarding how to help special needs people to improve coordination and self respect as well as helping to integrate them into the community. It has worked beautifully for many years with various groups. A drum circle adds something unique to any group or occasion.
I recently had the opportunity to facilitate a series of drum circles for groups of special needs children at a K – 9 school in Florissant / Ferguson school district in St. Louis. It was a wonderful experience bringing the joy of making music to many of these children, and helping our community to heal a little bit. Visit the Special Needs Drum Circles page above on the menu. The video was sent to me from the school.
This kind of work doesn’t pay very much monetarily, but it does in the heart. I do this purely because of the happiness and growth I see happening in the groups that I work with. Seeing the joy in their eye as they begin to “get it’ warms my soul. I see beginners who have never touched a musical instrument before, are playing and enjoying playing music for the first time in their lives. It affects many of them in a very deep emotional way experiencing their “musical” side. A side that most of them never even knew existed.
There have been dozens of studies done on the benefits of hand drumming. And, that drum circles have become more widely accepted as therapeutic, and valuable to many different groups. Everything from music education, to special needs. Not to mention elders, with at risk groups, at spiritual gatherings, or just for entertainment, fun, and that’s just the tip of it. It’s something positive, yet cool, that kids can do with their parents.
Drum circles are usually either freestyle, or facilitated by someone, (or a small group). One is not necessarily better than the other, they can both be fun. I’ve been attending and facilitating drum circles in different parts of the country for over 30 years. They all seem to have one thing in common, even at the same drum circle, one week can be the most enjoyable music making experience ever, and the next week it might be a train wreck. Most of the time it is fun. It depends a lot on who shows up, the musical relationships, and the group dynamic that develops.
There’s a lot of misinformation out there how to host or facilitate drum circles. There are no real set “protocols” to follow, most circles are in the moment music making. There may be a few guidelines, but there are dozens of facilitation styles to learn from around the country. Some companies offer various facilitation training and certifications they have themselves created. Some cost way more than others, and are weeks long. Many are backed by large drumming companies. Others get by with art’s center grants, or become non-profits. It’s challenging to get by on your own, but you can do this if you want.
Keep in mind, it’s a drum circle, not rocket science. If you have natural rhythm, or are a musician of other disciplines, you have a big advantage. The best facilitators have those years of musical training and experience. Taking some classes can’t hurt, and it looks good on your resume, but you can learn to facilitate on your own with some hard work, just like with anything else. Buy a drum and learn to keep time. Go to a few drum circles. Read books on the subject, watch a few DVD’s – videos, and get out there, practice, and get some experience. Visit and observe other facilitators. Every large market has a few. Becoming a solid musician is a big part of this.
If you’re interested in having a drum circle, or can use some ideas how to get a circle started up, please feel free to contact me. Musicians help each other out, and encourage the new ones. It’s a tradition handed down over the years. My 2 hour 101 Drum Circle Rhythms DVD is perfect for keeping a circle fresh with new rhythms, for teachers, music therapists, drum circle facilitators, or just for fun learning new rhythms from around the world to get you going. Below is YouTube clip from it. It’s over 2 hours of rhythms – Amazon DVD or Instant Video:
The proceeds from sales of my DVD, drum circle music, and Kindle book go towards work with various groups in our community, it helps with drum repairs, (it happens), and maintaining the drum circle finder website. Here’s a short YouTube video, please keep in mind these are only 15 second clips, on the DVD – Video of each of the 120 rhythms are about a minute long. These rhythms are perfect for reference material, or keeping a drum circle fresh and interesting.
Please use this Paypal button for ordering my 101 Rhythms DVD & drum jam CD in the USA. It’s $15 + $2 shipping.
Here’s a link for it on Amazon Instant Video & Downloading the full 2 hour 101 Drum Circle Rhythms Video ($14)
Please use this Paypal button for ordering the DVD & CD outside the USA. It is $2 additional. ($19 USD)
(Please note, for buyers outside of the USA, my DVD is region friendly.) You can also get this at Amazon Instant Video for $14. (But no free drum circle jam CD is included.)
Below is a snippet from my 300 page book, “A Practical Guide To Hand Drumming And Drum Circles”. It’s $8 on Amazon Kindle.
I enjoy freestyle and facilitated drum circles. Both are fun in their own way unless it’s over-facilitated. There’s nothing quite like playing at a smaller good freestyle drum circle where everyone can hear each other, and take turns starting rhythms out if they wish. Add a few dancers – hoopers – firespinners in there to connect with, and it’s just a wonderful experience. Often the musicality is better than it is in most bands, because we don’t have focus as hard, and think about getting everything right like we do at band gigs. Even though it’s minor thing in the back of my head, it’s still there. I don’t want to mess up on a song, a fellow band member, etc. I feel like when I’m up on stage, I want to be as professional as possible at all times.
What we do, and how we conduct ourselves is a reflection on other musicians. At a drum circle, we can experiment, take risks, just relax, and jam. Please, just wear a clean shirt.
Every week is a different experience. Some drummers are regulars, & others show up once a month or so. You’ll see everything from seasoned musicians who just want to kick back and jam, to beginners who are trying out their new drum, and everything in between. Young and old, people from all backgrounds and different cultures all come together, get along, and communicate through the music.
Most drum circles are truly an amazing experience to witness. People from around the world show up for one reason, to play the drums together, be creative, and just have fun. Somehow, it all sounds great. It’s drum circle magic.
The styles of the drum circle rhythms we play ranges from Latin, African, Caribbean, Middle Eastern, to some plain old funky Freestyles. We jam out for 10 – 15 minutes. Then somehow, it stops. We take a breath, and somebody starts it up again with a new drum beat. Then everyone joins in, finding their own unique place in the mix.
A community drum circle is fun for everyone, including the onlookers, some of whom are just innocently walking by, get caught up by the drumming beat and begin to watch. Then ever so slowly they begin to move a little, then more & more. Gradually they head to the center of the circle and start groovin’. It’s kind of amusing to watch this process. Gradually, they always give in to the rhythm. They haven’t got a chance. It always overcomes them, and in they go. Even the shyest of types can only hold out for about five minutes. It happens every time, It never fails. That drum rhythm is going to get you. Some of them are good enough to be professionals, others just expressing themselves.
The fascinating thing is the variety of styles you see. Just as the drumming frequently takes an ethnic turn, so does the dancing. Every kind you can imagine, from all sorts of different countries. Many of the drum circle participants come dressed according to their cultures, or just their own personal sense of style. A lot of them show up just to unwind from a long week, and let off a little stress. There’s nothing like a little drumming to help you relax. I need to go to a good drum circle at least once a week or I just feel like I have missed something.
Many of these dancers are really good, and as the drum beat drives them, they drive the beat. As the drummers express rhythm through sound, they express it through movement. And as they move in front of the drummers, the musicians play harder. As a result, it goes on and on, until it’s like being in a trance! It usually drives us to the point of exhaustion, but who cares? It’s just way too much fun.
Some of the drummers, and onlookers are from different cultures and don’t even speak the same language. Most use native drums from their own countries. Djembes, congas, doumbeks, ashikos, bongos, & many other smaller percussion instruments.
You never know what you will see. Washboards, shakers, rattles, wood blocks, bells, tambourines, triangles, zils, and many other home made gadgets. (Or what some of us call “junk percussion”.) Once I saw a guy with an old cowbell that looked like he grabbed it right off the farm. Yo dude…more cowbell.
Seriously though, a lot of people go to drum circles for the healing benefits, and it’s also a social outlet. Mostly everyone there is in a good mood and having fun. Others come there to let off a little stress, and drum the cares of the week behind.
At a drum circle it can be high energy jamming, different time signatures, rhythms from various cultures, grooving, meditative, healing, spiritual, and so much more. Sometimes all of that happens at one drum circle session. Sometimes they play the same stupid beat all night long, so you just never know, until you go.
There is always a lot of variety in the drumming experience. Occasionally, someone with something other than a percussion instrument will show up to add a hint of melody floating over the beat, like a wood flute, didgeridoo, or something. The sort of unspoken drum circle rule is that you need your own instrument of some kind, and then you can trade with other drummers and try drums others have brought. Many will let you try theirs out if you ask, and treat it with respect.
The drums do the talking, in a musical event that has pretty much swept the world, now called a drum circle. You can hear things like the “Call & Response”, “The Echo”, and many other forms of drumming communication.
None of this is planned, or performed for anyone, it just starts out, and happens in the moment. We do it because we just love doing it. Best of all, we build a sense of community together. The international blend of characters is what makes a drum circle such a good time for the drummers, the dancers, and even the onlookers. Every drum circle is different, even at the same place. Some drum circles are facilitated by someone, and others are freestyle. (Or in Canada and other parts of the world often referred to as “tribal”.)
I was a very self conscious kid, and music helped me to deal with, and overcome that. I was also hyperactive, and playing the drums gave me an outlet for it. Many drum circles are family friendly – it’s something positive and fun to do with your kids. It may help them too – even encourage them to join school band.
Briefly put, I believe good drum circle facilitation is taking a group of people who may have never touched a drum before in their lives, and making a percussion band with them. It is a good example of cultural diversity becoming community interaction. They all discover they can indeed make music, and in the process even overcome inner social fears. We make up spontaneous rhythms, as well as play various culturally specific rhythms from around the world, all done by using only musical cues. It is very organic, and every drum circle is different, depending on the group’s dynamic. I work with the general public in all settings, with seniors, and special needs groups.
Even if someone has never played one before, and thinks that they have no rhythm at all, in a matter of a few minutes, they can be playing drum rhythms, and making some beautiful music with their own hands. Since a drum rhythm repeats, it’s easy to find a place in it when you are ready.
I’ve been attending and facilitating drum circles for over 30 years. It’s an outlet for me. I believe drum circles are more about the people, than it is the drumming. The quality of the music produced in a drum circle isn’t really based on the musical experience of the players, but on the developing quality of the relationships of the people that emerge. As a facilitator, I help people to empower themselves through drumming, music, and fun. I encourage individual creativity, and group dynamics.
Interestingly, drum circles are never the same, even with the same group. It is always fresh, enlightening, and can be an exciting event for entire families. Here is an activity where parents and their children can do something fun together. Teens can be doing something cool – yet positive. People with disabilities can just be one of the guys at the drum circle. The feelings of fun and euphoria are hard to describe when the group dynamic is created. It only takes about ten or fifteen minutes to start happening.
Very little is planned in advance except maybe a list of rhythms to suggest. Most of the facilitating can be done through the music. The musical communication, support of the beat, and end points to a jam, are usually done with the drumming. Recognizing, and supporting the group’s expression is a key element, because since drum circles are so organic in nature, that to an onlooker, there are times that look like absolute chaos is going on…but it’s an organized chaos. It levels out into a group song, and it is uniquely ours. We create it.
I also offer a 6 disc pack that includes the rhythms DVD & 5 drum circle CD’s for $40 including shipping to anywhere in the USA. It’s a whole lot of material.
Drum Circle Lovers Deal 6 Pack – The 101 Rhythms DVD & 5 Drumming CD’s $40 Including USA Shipping. For the really hard core drum circle lover! $40 Shipped (USA Only, but for shipping to other countries, you can get this (2nd button below) or on Ebay for $6 more – Search for this title: Drum Circle Rhythms DVD & 5 Live Drumming Jam CDs.) Here’s what’s included:
The DVD 101 Drum Circle Rhythms For The Hand Drum (2 hours, 12 Min. long) 2 CD’s 101 Drum Circle Rhythms (2 Hours) (Great for the car stereo or iPod) 2 CD’s Live Ultimate Drum Circles (78 minutes on each disc, good stuff!) The CD Clearwater Beach Drum Circle (78 minutes of great drum circle action) (You can substitute the Wild Drum Circles 2 CD set, for the 2 other rhythms CDs. Just ask, and I will do it.)
These five drumming CD’s & DVD will keep you, or any other hand drummer busy, for a long, long time. And I hope it helps you to enjoy drum circles more. So it’s a total of 6 drumming discs for $40 including shipping anywhere in the USA. That’s a pretty good value for your money. (Even these days.) Sales of this, help me to fund work in our community, drum repairs, and keep this website going.
For ordering the 6 disc pack to ALL other countries please us the Paypal button below.
The total is $46 USD shipping included.
Also, check out the FaceBook page “Drum Circle Finder” and post about your drum circle there. The ongoing weekly and monthly drum circles are added later to the website. The FaceBook group, “Drum Circle World” is another place to promote your circles and most anything else drum circle related.
I hope my site helps you to keep people in the groove, and thanks for checking it out. Keep bangin’ the bongos!
Please help support the drum circle finder site by picking up a drum circle mp3 track on iTunes or the full 2 hours for $10. There’s a variety of live drum circle jams, or my 101 Drum Circle Rhythms Video – Just search on the title, or use the link:
Or, if not on iTunes, Amazon, or click the CDbaby.com link
My 300 page drum circle book is $8. On Kindle or Nook. Read the first few chapters free with the look inside feature.
This website, text, music, & photos Copyright © Shannon Ratigan 1999 – 2016 All Rights Reserved.