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How to facilitate a 125-kids Jewish drum circle for Shabbat!

In the upcoming weeks, I’ll be writing more on business topics, because I LOVE running a heart-based company. It is an incredibly rich, fulfilling, liberating journey in personal development. And, I get so many business questions, that I feel it’s part of my life purpose to answer them!

As a fellow creative visionary, I feel as though I can help YOU make your creative vision for the world happen IRL (in real life), because I’ve done it for myself. So, tune in for more soon. Meanwhile…

Speaking opportunities, conference keynotes, presentations, and GROUP DRUMMING are rewarding AND effective. These are a couple of the smartest ways to leverage your time and reach more people as a creative business owner.

There are the day-to-day sessions that we provide as a private practice, and then there are those less-often higher paying opportunities that not only feed the soul, but also pay well. It fits well into our business model.

One of the best opportunities for facilitating drum circles is within Jewish communities…. especially for kids! Did you know that just about every Hebrew prayer has a MELODY? And, although melodies may change from congregation to congregation, at least you’ve got a rhythmic start.

Because of all the singing these kids do regularly, it was no wonder that they could keep a beat at the first go-around.

Here are my tips for doing it right:

1. Stay in close contact with the event coordinator and service leader.
I was assigned a service leader, a high schooler. He led the kids in chanting while queuing the drums to support the service. From our conversations, I learned a bit about Jewish mysticism… For this service we welcomed in the bride of Shabbat and the union between people and God.

2. Ask tons of questions, such as:
— What do you hope the group walks away with?
— How do you see the drum circle supporting our goals?
— Why did you choose a drum circle?
— What songs or melodies would you like for us to incorporate?
— What is the meaning for this religious service?
— Is this part of a weekend event?
— Will other congregants be present?
— How long is the service?
— Can the prayers be interrupted with drum calls?

From the answers to these questions, I was able to work with the service leaders in creating a plan. The plan included some powerful information that was important to the overarching flow, such as: Call & response was a symbol of our communication and connection with God. The theme of this service was Survivor, so bringing drums into the mix allowed for a tribal feel. They also gave me recordings of 9 of the chants that they used, so I could get a feel for the rhythm and learn the beginnings.

3. Take a stand for the way that the drum circle will support the goals.

For instance: In the beginning I told the organizers that I would not bring 125 drums. We would use tons of small percussions to fill in the rhythm and make the music more interesting. The way I described it was “We don’t want a WALL of sound, instead we want an ebb and flow of music.” And it totally made sense, especially after I explained that everyone would get a chance to play. WIN!

Another for instance: The organizers wanted all the kids on ONE side of the temple, all facing the same direction. I suggested that we take up half the temple with half the kids facing north and half the kids facing south so that they could see each other. WIN!

Another for instance: We devised a solid plan for passing out and packing up utilizing 20 volunteers. We also had these guys serve as monitors through the service to model the rhythms and chants. WIN!

4. Study Dave Holland’s work and DVDs like crazy. Arthur Hull is great for foundational drum circle work, then get into Dave’s world for all things KIDS!

5. Follow up, stay afterwards, and make friends. Just because I stayed afterwards, I will be drumming with a sister congregation in the future =)

Shabbat Shalom! What are YOUR tips for drumming with kids?

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Creating Rhythm in the Smart Age

goodman01Guest Post by Jordan Goodman, MS

There’s an early scene in the movie “Her,” depicting a probable reality of the not-so-distant future. Theodore (played by Joaquin Phoenix) is riding the subway, communicating only with his empathic “smart” device. And so is everyone else. We have never had the ability to be so connected. We have never been so isolated.

This profound irony will continue to crystallize as new generations are born into an increasingly advanced Smart Age. With this, a growing hunger for more authentic connections will continue to manifest. Something deeper and more meaningful. We experience this in two distinct ways—and drumming can offer a solution!

1. Connection with yourself
Like many of you, I would constantly hear about the benefits of mindfulness meditation. This practice has endured in some form throughout every major religion. Modern science was beginning to catch up too.

Regrettably, it just felt so intangible and foreign to me. But when I was 20, I read something similar to “Mindfulness for Dummies” in my college library. As I sat there, focusing on the breath entering and exiting my nostrils, the intrusive thoughts immediately appeared. “What the hell am I doing?” “This is stupid.” “When will it start working?”

I kept at it though, practicing 2 minutes here and 5 minutes there—for years. And like the muscle memory you develop with an instrument, mindfulness mediation became more natural. It was no longer something I only “practiced,” but an entirely new way of experiencing myself and my world. Then it hit me — I had actually been practicing mindfulness for 2 hours everyday after high school when I rushed home to play my drum set. Continue Reading →

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If The US Surgeon General Sat In On My Drum Circle, Then I Would ________

US Surgeon General Drum CircleI found myself asking that question a week ago Friday evening, after the fact.

Maybe it was better that I didn’t know that he was sitting there, drumming up a storm, cutting off our rhythm to exclaim “Wellness!” and smiling and having fun.

Let’s do a quick refresher on who the Surgeon General is: Boris Lushniak is the current leading spokesperson on matters of public health in the federal government of the United States, appointed by the president. And after participating in those meetings at the resort (of which the drum circle was a small but memorable part), he now knows the power of music in healthcare.

But I didn’t know that it was HE sitting there, until my buddy Mike told me an hour after it happened. Ha – And boy am I glad I didn’t realize it was he.

Because if the Surgeon General isn’t enough to knock off your boots, imagine facilitating a drum circle with Ben Folds sitting there, too.

I’ve realized that there are two sides of me in situations like these: Professional Kat and Fan Girl Kat.

My friend Draza helped me figure that out when I asked her two weeks ago at a friend’s birthday party, “How do you hold it together when you do healing work on famous people?”

She grinned, kicked her legs up behind her, and said “There is a time and place for the Fan Girl, and sometimes she wants to come out and say ‘I saw you looking at me at your last concert!’ or ‘Can you autograph my drum?’ And the Fan Girl plays over and over in my mind. I see her making cartwheels and hear her squealing, and then, at the same time, I put all my energy into the work in the moment.” Draza went on for a while describing the experience of her work in Malibu with the stars.

I had no idea that she was coaching me for what was to come the next weekend.

I’ve taken an entire week just to process my experience before sharing it here, because. it. blew. my. mind.

When I asked my client what the objectives were, and who would be attending, she said “There will be stakeholders and policy makers participating.” Truth be told, my initial reaction was “I can handle a bunch of boring old suits, loosen them up, help them crack their first smile in a week! Yeah!”

You can imagine my surprise when I walked into the resort and saw Ben Folds chatting it up with Robert Gupta. So, THOSE are “stakeholders and policy makers.” I thought they would be a big group of boring old guys 😉

And what are the chances that less than a WEEK after Ben Folds shared my guitar pick on twitter, he would be standing there at the resort…. The spirits moved me to give him another guitar pick, *just* in case he had lost that other one. #GuitarPickMarketingWorks, no joke.

I had the pleasure of sitting through part of the roundtable discussion, and hearing Meagan Morrow’s story of working with Gabby Giffords. What perfect timing that she happened to be sharing her story with these 45 brilliant minds, when Robert Redford walked in.

He goes by “Bob.” When he picked up the mic to say hello, he insisted that Meagan had much more interesting things to say than himself. He was very impressed with our group, and he had things to take care of. He couldn’t stay for the drum circle.

BUT that’s ok. We had a blast, even without Bob.

My buddy Mike drove up in his Drum Bus, and helped out with all the equipment. He has them in multiple locations. Call him up to see if there’s one in your neighborhood! Check his Drum Bus here:
Drum Bus

Our first circle played in the Drum Bus itself. It was a blast. Then the second circle happened outside. Big thank to Meagan Morrow for sharing these pix with me!

Sundance Drum Circle

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SundanceDrum2013c_opt
Below is a shot of Maegan, Ben, and Alicia.
SundanceDrum2013d_opt
And of course, they all jammed into the evening over at Bob’s house (Robert Redford’s house, that is)—-
SundanceDrum2013e_opt

Coming back home from an experience like that, feeling the abundance of support thrown at the arts, I’ve been flying around Cloud 9 for a few days. I’m usually flying around there anyway, but this was just a little more jet fuel to propel my spirits into the atmosphere.

I know that I’m positive in an extreme and rare kind of way. I base my future and vision on past successes, because otherwise I’d never take risks. And sometimes I base my future and expectations on absolutely nothing from the past but a leap of faith, knowing that I may fall down very hard. And I have fallen down very hard before.

There have been some really interesting discussions about music, arts, healthcare, and job opportunities lately. A lot of people feel hopeless, and a lot of people have given up on the idea of living your dream job.

I’m not claiming to have answers. But there are some things I know, for sure.

In every economic crisis, in every long-term hardship, in every doom & gloom era of history, there have been people who have thrived. Not just survived and barely made it through… THRIVED, prospered, flourished, succeeded. Not just rich, healthy people either. Even people who start with nothing.

What sets those people apart from the rest?

Lord knows, I have opinions on this. But maybe what’s more important than the opinions, ideas, and answer is just remembering to ask the question.

Thanks for reading, and I hope that you can feel the excitement, hope, exhilaration, and pure bliss that have been running through my veins this past week.

Be well, feel good, and make music! Kat

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Would You Like A Free Drumming Meditation Script?

drum04Last Thursday, I facilitated a drum circle for a group of women who get together every month and donate $25 to the speaker’s favorite charity. We met at a park in Cardiff, CA, with an amazing ocean view. The air was clear and clean.

The ladies call themselves “Joyful Hearts,” and that they were! Seeing all these ladies catching up with each other, and sharing their family stories together reminded me how grateful I am for my own girlfriends.

They brought chairs, and we all sat around in a circle. I asked them to to remove their rings to protect the drum heads. I taught them the names of the drums and where they come from. Then I led them through this meditation before drumming:

Meditation Before Drumming

Take a deep breath in, and find a comfortable place in your chair. I invite you to close your eyes and draw your attention to your breath.

The breath, the air, the wind is here to fully support you in your creative endeavors today. The breath gives us life, and life gives us creativity. The air holds no judgment. Take a moment to acknowledge the air around us, and the breath we take in. [pause]

I invite you to draw your attention to the ground beneath you. The ground that offers every step as sacred one. The ground that supports you as you rest in your chair. Know that the earth is here to give you full support in your creative endeavors today. [pause]

You’re invited to focus on the sounds that surround you. The sounds of nature, wind, motorcycles, animals, the trees. All these sounds are here to play with you today. They are asking for a witness, an amplifier, a sounding board, and a playmate. Take a moment to send an energetic High Five to the sounds around you, in thanks. [pause]

Bring your attention to the drum in your hands. Feel the texture, the shape, the temperature, the contours of the drum. The drum that serves you today, as a creative channel. A simple vessel through which you communicate your own inner creative child. The drum holds no judgment. The drum is here to serve your highest self in communion with your friends. Take a moment to acknowledge the drum. [pause]

When you are ready, I invite you to open your eyes. Become aware of your friends in the circle. These friends hold no judgment. Friends are here to fully support you in your drumming today. Acknowledge your friends around the circle with a smile, a wink, and kind, loving eyes.


We had a blast =) They all donated $25 to the Cancer Coping Center.

I hope that you can copy, paste and adapt the script for your own needs in your own practice.

Meanwhile, here’s some more insight that I received this past week: When I feel disappointed in someone, when I’m revolted by someone, when someone says something that completely goes against my own personal understanding of loving kindness, when someone participates in self-destructive behavior….

I find that my first step to feeling resolve and peace is with this thought:

Given all that this person knows, all that this person has experienced in life, all that this person is equipped with, and all the tools that he’s been given,

maybe this really IS the best he/she can do.

Then I move on to examining my own response and feelings to see how I can change in the world.

Peace and blessings =) Thanks for reading. Cheers to you for a rockin’ week ahead. ~Kat

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Watch A Quick Pandeiro Run-Down With Bill Matney

I’m almost out of the Kat-Cave! Next Tuesday is THE BIG DAY. Learn more about the project here.

Special thanks to Noel Anderson for sending in this photo of Ding in the cat cave!

Ding in Roanoke, VA

Ding in Roanoke, VA

In other news, the deadline for early bird registration for the American Music Therapy Conference is on WEDNESDAY, July 11. In honor of the deadline and all the hard work the conference planners put in to make the magic happen, I’m sharing this video from last year’s conference.

Meet Bill Matney, Music Therapy Drumming extraordinaire, as he gives us some quick tips about the pandeiro!

Are you coming to AMTA this year? Are you presenting? Are you traveling from afar? I’d love to hear about it. Throw down a comment, and let me know so I can make a point to meet you there.

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