After a meal and an evening of music-making with three amazing women drummers last weekend, I was inspired to write about drum circle facilitation and a program that connects all four of us: Remo’s HealthRHYTHMS®.
Mary Tolena and Jú Linares of ZaBoomBala Drumming Works stayed with me in San Diego for 2 days and told me stories of their recent Drum-About across the United States and through Brazil. Christine Stevens of UpBeat Drum Circles joined us over the weekend, and we four shared music and touching stories about our experiences in our work.
The following paragraphs should clarify the difference between a music therapist (MT) and a drum circle facilitator (DCF). There are MTs, there are DCFs, and sometimes people are both MTs and DCFs (like myself and Christine Stevens). DCFs are not considered therapists, but facilitators, coaches, teachers, and/or mentors. Music therapy is an allied healthcare profession established in the 1940s, while drum circle facilitation is a relatively new field. DCFs come with diverse backgrounds: professional drummers, social workers, music therapists, healthcare professionals, wellness consultants, corporate trainers, and more.
Music therapists ~
- Use evidence-based music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship (American Music Therapy Association, 2010)
- Are required to obtain a degree (bachelors, masters, PhD), attend a 6-month internship, and pass a board-certification exam.
- May be members of the American Music Therapy Association in the US.
- Are all formally trained musicians.
Drum circle facilitators ~
- Utilize a variety of techniques to make an interactive music experience easy, fun, and meaningful for participants (Drum Circle Facilitators Guild, 2010)
- May attend a training program. They vary between 4 days and 2 weeks. HealthRHYTHMS is one such training program. I’ll be writing about more DCF training programs soon.
- May be members of the Drum Circle Facilitation Guild in the US.
- Are not necessarily formally trained musicians, but some are world-renowned musicians.
MT is an awesome path if you are a formally trained musician and would like to work in the medical, psychiatric, educational, or wellness fields. DCF is a wonderful opportunity for people interested in empowering others to make music in a recreational setting, without having to obtain a degree or become proficient on an instrument. DCF is also great for those already on a healthcare or corporate career path, looking to supplement their current services.
For those interested in continuing education with regards to wellness, the HealthRHYTHMS® training program is a good option because the program focuses specifically on health and wellness through group drumming. The HealthRHYTHMS® research over the past ten years has helped to bridge the gap between the ancient art of healing and modern science.
The body of music therapy literature is prolific, spanning 5 decades of quantitative research that focuses on a variety of techniques with a variety of populations. For instance, I have posted a snapshot of the MT research on infants in a NICU here. MTs are formally trained with regards to the importance of the therapist-client relationship, how to build rapport with the client, how to follow systematic steps for successful client transformation, how to apply these steps with a variety of populations using an enormous variety of music interventions.
Although I was never lucky enough to meet legendary music therapist, Bongo Barry Bernstein, MT-BC, he left his mark in the music & wellness world through his years of service, creative rhythmic interaction, and creating the bridge between music and science. In this video, you may notice that the spirit of Bongo Barry lives on in both the music therapy field and drum circle facilitation.
Image courtesy of Lucas Lee.