Airdrie residents invited to attend community drum circle sessions
Airdrie residents looking for a new experience are in luck.
Airdrie Community Drum Circle offers monthly sessions at the Royal Canadian Legion from 7 to 9 p.m. The sessions are an opportunity for attendees to play drums from Africa, North America and South America in a group with a professional facilitator.
“Come with an open mind,” said the group’s facilitator Judy Atkinson. “At the end of the every drum circle, you will feel peaceful and relaxed.”
Airdrie’s drum circle has been in existence for about two-and-a-half years and attracts between 15 and 30 people each time.
The sessions last two hours and provide a host of health, psychological, spiritual and emotional benefits, according to Atkinson.
“Research shows that there are three physiological impacts that could be measured after a one-hour drum circle session,” she said.
Those benefits include a reduction in blood pressure and heart rate and a boosted immune system, she added.
Seventeen-year Airdrie resident Sue Methuen has been attending drum circles for five years and says she goes to relieve stress and have fun.
“I have been going for years and it’s my stress release, it’s my feel good every month,” she said. “It’s a community where you get together with other people and you drum in rhythm, the sound of the drum and the vibration of the drum is like the heartbeat… it just feels good and it’s fun too.”
Methuen said the Airdrie Community Drum Circle was brought to the city after members of the Airdrie RCMP detachment and Airdrie and District Victim Assistance Society (ADVAS) attended a drumming circle retreat. The experience was so positive that Lori Rehill, executive director of ADVAS, started the community circle.
Methuen encourages residents to have an open mind and attend a session.
“If you want to try something a little bit different and something that is fun , musical and has a lot of heart to it, just come once and give it a try,” she said. “It is not just for hippies.”
Atkinson said she has both experienced and seen many benefits in her 15 years of participation in the growing phenomenon.
“Drum circles are starting to become more well known… and they are being used as a tool for health and wellness,” she said, adding they are also being used in the workplace for team building.
Atkinson said she has personally seen backaches and migraines disappear and said research is also being done with cancer patients.
Atkinson first experienced a drum circle 15 years ago while pursuing a master’s of adult education degree with a focus on leadership development at the University of Calgary.
During her studies, she visited Mexico, where she was invited to take part in a drum circle, a practice that was virtually unknown at the time.
“When I attended, it was crystal clear, I knew that is what I needed to be doing,” she said, adding she felt empowered, capable and confident.
“I felt a part of something and there was no judgment, there was no greater than or less than,” she said. “It was just an open invitation to come and play.”
Once back in Calgary, Atkinson started a business specializing in drum circles and now offers sessions in communities, for small groups and for businesses.
Each session starts out with a short explanation of how to play the variety of drums, followed by a short demonstration of simple rhythms to get the group started.
The group then drums together for stress relief and, during the second hour of the evening, takes turns giving drum massages, which consist of beating large drums near each attendee to enable the vibrations to enter their bodies.
“Time just disappears,” said Atkinson. “This is about empowering people’s greatness, so when they sit down and are able to this well, they are so excited.”
The Airdrie Community Drum Circle will meet Sept. 27, Oct. 30, Nov. 27 and Dec. 11 at the Airdrie Legion from 7 to 9 p.m. The drop-in sessions are $10 per person.
For more information about drum circles, contact Atkinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 403-253-2023.