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   Beat The Blues

During 2017 we ran a project called 'Beat The Blues', which was funded by a grant from The Big Lottery Fund. The project included fortnightly drum circle sessions, playing live at some public events, and taking group members to Eskdale in the Lake District for a residential weekend trip in September 2017.

We attracted many new people to our drum sessions through various publicity methods, including an article in the local newspaper (click here to view a copy), leaflets and posters (click the image on the left to see the poster), and spreading our details as far and wide as we could through social media and online events listings.

Our drum circle sessions both accommodated absolute beginners, and gave opportunity for more experienced players to stretch their abilities. We worked on the basics of hand drumming, learned some traditional African rhythms, led free improvisation sessions, and also worked towards public performances by rehearsing a repertoire of five rhythms, each with breaks and a set structure.

You can see photographs of one of the 2017 drum circle sessions by clicking here.

Another way we spread the word about Tidal Beats and our 'Beat The Blues' project was by taking ourselves out to public events and doing performances and workshop sessions, where we had a great response from the general public - people loved being able to come along and join in an impromptu drumming session with us. You can see photographs of some of these events further down this page.

In September we took the group members on a residential trip to Eskdale Youth Hostel in the Lake District. We had a very relaxed and easy-going weekend, with plenty of activities on offer but no pressure to join in, so that those people who simply wanted to go wandering in the beautiful countryside could do so. Over the weekend we had an ice-breaker session where everybody got to know each other a little better, and we tried (quite successfully!) to create rhythms using headlines cut out of newspapers; we tried our hands at circus skills, with people attempting juggling, plate spinning, stiltwalking, poi, diabolo and much more; we did several drum sessions, both structured and improvised and both inside the hostel and outside, up the hill at the wooden log circle; we had two social evenings where DJ John Tree played some world music and we played live percussion over the top, as well as giving people the chance to try DJing for themselves under his expert guidance, and we had a session using 'Everything & the Kitchen Sink', our portable interactive junk percussion sculpture, outside on the front lawn of the hostel. dJohn also led a session making flutes from plastic pipe, which went down well with the several people who wanted to try making one. It was a great weekend, and it was good to be able to get to know each other better in such a welcoming and chilled-out environment. You can see photographs of the weekend by clicking this link.

Here is a short selection of some of the comments people made about various aspects of the year-long project:
"I enjoy the discipline of learning a rhythm that becomes familiar & comfortable. Having a routine is very balancing - that goes for the rhythm, but also the regularity of seeing familiar friendly faces. It's great for my well-being. Also great to see members' confidence grow as the gigs approached - many had not performed in public before."
Tidal Beats is a breath of fresh air!"
I really look forward to each session. I really like structured sessions; I feel the teaching of proper rhythms is important, especially when working towards a public performance. I have got to know people better, and being with so many was so completely out of my comfort zone . . . I always feel like I'm being judged, but not with this group. They are a funny friendly bunch."
"The weekend trip has been very therapeutic for my mental health - fabulous to get to know group members and see them let their hair down. A fantastic year as a whole from Tidal Beats. Looking forwards to more in the future."
(On the residential) "All the social time e.g. walking together, enjoying the wildlife, relaxing and playing drums outdoors has been very special - evening entertainment excellent."
(Public performances) "Are enjoyable and seem to be very much appreciated by the general public." / " Great participation by the public."
"Structure is key - without direction the drum circle would fall apart. (When improvising) sometimes it's just a noisy jam, other times you can learn to listen and apply the learning from more structured sections - great for relieving stress."

"Lovely time to relax
   and unwind

   and just time to pause

   when things are a bit hectic"


We're extremely pleased with the way the year-long project has gone, and we're aware that it wouldn't have happened without the commitment and willingness of the people who've come along and joined us - if you were involved in Tidal Beats' project during 2017, we'd like to say a big 'Thankyou!'


We performed at Highfield Road Park, Blackpool, for their fundraising event on June 11th . . .

. . . and then led two half-hour workshop sessions with whoever wanted to join in.





Then, on June 25th, we did another performance and workshops in St. John's Square in Blackpool town centre, to support Amnesty International's Refugee Week event.





Click this image to see a large version of the poster

In September we went along to AFRA's annual Black History Month event and played some rhythms to entertain their guests, before getting an incredible response when we got them up and playing along with us!




The 'Beat The Blues' project is based on our experiences of the beneficial aspects of group drumming; scientific research to support this can be found here.

For an excellent write-up of one person's experience of attending Tidal Beats drum circles, please visit the Elephant, Creative Thinking website.