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   Drum Out Depression

From May 2015 through to May 2016 we ran our 'Drum Out Depression' project, for which we were fortunate enough to have been awarded a grant from The Big Lottery Fund. It consisted of fortnightly drum circles, as well as a weekend residential trip to Eskdale in the Lake District.
In May 2015 we led a drum circle at an Amnesty International event, outdoors in St. Anne's Square, which was a great afternoon of music from various entertainers. We had a large group of passers-by drumming along with us, and we spread the word about our project with leaflets (click the image on the left to see the full-size poster). We also had details about our group sessions printed in various local newsletters and publications. We attracted many, many people to the Tuesday evening drum circles, which were split between teaching specific African rhythms (and a lot of drum basics as well, of course) and playing freestyle improvised pieces where we simply listened and responded to each other. We had people from all walks of life attending, all abilities, and ranging in age from 2 to 82 - and it was great to see quite a few family groups attending. We have seen lots of new friendships bloom and know that some of these have extended further than simply meeting on Tuesday evenings.

You can see photographs of the drum circles by clicking this link, and here are a few of the comments made by people who attended the Tuesday evening sessions:
"Fab!! Lots of energy in the room / I love the first hour when I attempt to follow what you are showing us . . . I'm full of enthusiasm / always made to feel part of the group / sometimes the beats are a little difficult to follow but it is good to be challenged / really doing great for my mental health - great idea, great staff and enjoying seeing all the smiles! / had a great drumming session - look forwards to them all / room was buzzing, every seat being taken and we needed more chairs! / good night - sore hands, good vibes / wouldn’t miss drumming for the world . . . I just take it all out on the drum!"

In September 2015 we took the group away to Eskdale Youth Hostel in the Lake District for a residential trip, and had a great, relaxing weekend. We originally had 34 names on our list of people-who-were-interested-in-going, but for various reasons only 25 people attended. We spent lots of time drumming, either learning specific rhythms or improvising (depending on the mood), sometimes taking our drums outdoors up the hill to the wooden log circle. We also did a circus skills session, some DJ training in the evening, and spent Sunday morning playing 'Everything & the Kitchen Sink' on the front lawn. We had lots of time to do our own thing, although there was always something going on that we could join in with. We enjoyed going for walks in the beautiful countryside, taking photographs and nature-spotting - some of us saw snakes on the footpaths (and several of us only saw the bushes move, as the snakes slithered cautiously away). We all got on very well together, helping each other when we could and enjoying each other's company, and it was great to be able to get to know each other better than allowed by the usual, brief, two hours on a Tuesday evening.

You can see photographs of the weekend by clicking this link, and here are some comments people made about the weekend:
"food and company, music and dancing - all good . . . everyone was able to do what they wanted - no pressure, so could relax more than I have all year. I left very rested / loved drumming under the stars - will always remember how beautiful the night sky was, and the atmosphere / great location, great food / relaxing in a lovely setting and environment / shame to leave just when everyone has started to feel comfortable amongst others, sharing the space / it was really chilled, playing really good rhythms / brilliant to spend time having a go (at circus skills) and managing to 'get it' after practice - building resilience is a great coping mechanism / fantastic to meet everyone, made friends for life / drumming in the outdoors in the dark was a first! / plenty of options to keep us amused and entertained . . . I forgot there weren't any TVs and no signal for the smartphone / fantastic meeting people and getting to know them / (drumming is) a great stress reliever and when it all comes together to make music - a lovely feeling of achievement and well-being comes with it / lovely being with everyone, we all got on so well" /////// "There were some beautiful moments of relaxing, enjoying the drumming, enjoying each others company and not having to do any washing up or cleaning for a whole weekend. As you know, our family lives frugally. So to be offered a weekend away, totally free and in such a beautiful setting was a rare treat and I want you to know that I am very grateful and that I feel privileged to have been part of the weekend. With the current news topics being dominated by the crisis of the refugees, I consider myself lucky that I could indulge in such a great experience".

We feel that the year-long project has been very successful, and we're pleased to have met so many enthusiastic people, willing to come along with us on a musical journey of self-discovery!

 

The 'Drum Out Depression' 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.

 

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