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We Got the Beat!

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Photo courtesy of Max Vuong

I’m very excited to be on the team of instructors at San Dieguito Adult School for a class in February! This class is open to the public, so gather all your friends and come drum with us!

The description of the We Got the Beat! Group Drumming Class follows:

Rhythm surrounds us. The change of traffic light signals, the tick of the clock, the ring of your phone. Rhythm is also an inherent flow within our own bodies. Consider the steps of your feet, the blinks of your eyes, the beats of your heart. Rhythm is everywhere! Harness this omnipresent energy and apply it to your own life in our group drumming class!

Kat brings an assortment of drums and shakers from around the world, teaches simple world rhythms (Brazil, Japan, Africa, Cuba, and more), and facilitates group music-making in a perfect setting to expand your innate capacity for creativity. Expect to be elevated and inspired! Beginners are welcome, and no music experience is required. All drums and instruments are provided, and participants are welcome to bring personal instruments.

Tuesdays, 6:00PM – 7:00PM in Solana Beach
4 sessions starting February 2, 2010, ending February 23, 2010
Tuition: $30.00

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La Costa Glen drums for Glenbrook

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I do not know of a holiday moment as special as seeing drummers from anindependent living retirement community perform for a skilled nursing group. This was all made possible thanks to the La Costa Glen drumming class! We had been looking for the perfect performance venue for a while, when finally, it dawned on us that performing at the sister skilled nursing community for the holidays would be right up our alley! Our program follows:

Introductions sequenced into the drum groove (My name is Bill, Let’s all play!)
Kum Ba Ya with Drum Call – ending with Shave and a Haircut
Little Drummer Boy
O Come All Ye Faithful
God Rest Ye Merry with Joan playing the tone chimes
Twelve Days of Christmas with drum rumbles
Merritt’s Drum Call ~ Joy to the World
Do You Hear What I hear ~ Tone chimes
White Christmas, Claude, soloist
Silver Bells
We Wish You a Merry Christmas

It was amazing and fantastic! I’ve drummed with these drummers for at least 3 years, and wow ~ We’ve all come a long way. It is an honor to witness our group growth and evolution within the class. After the performance, and after the overwhelming applause, we continued with a program that engaged both performers and audience members  in making music. We sang and played Christmas, Hanukkah, and winter songs. We shared our family traditions. Doris and John mentioned that their tradition has always been to hang ice skates on the wall as a decoration. We debated whether Santa Claus actually exists. It is a fact that most residents at La Costa Glen actually DO believe in Santa Claus. We laughed and shared more memories.

Afterwards, I spent an hour with the assisted living group drumming, bell-ringing, and celebrating the holidays. One of my most favorite moments in life is to see someone pick up a drum with tilted eyebrows and skeptical words. Then after playing for 5 minutes, the tilted eyebrows turn to raised eyebrows, and the skeptical words turn to laughter and relaxed social interaction. Comments included “You have uplifted us and gotten us ready for the holiday season!” “Who knew that drumming could make me feel so good?” “You bring us so much joy with your music and drumming!”

Needs: Mood enhancement
Interventions: Active music-making sculpted into familiar songs via bells, drums, reminiscence in the context of music
Outcomes: Positive social interaction aeb eye contact, laughter, smiles; enhanced mood

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A Rhythm Ritual for the New Year

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Drum Circle Participants (used with permission)

It might have been the celebration to surpass all other celebrations when we rang in the New Year with a GONG at my New Year’s Eve party. Today surprised me however, we celebrated New Years in a deep, meaningful way at La Costa Glen, an independent living retirement community. These community residents are inspiring! The drum class participants are full of life, always open to learning new things, and always teaching me new things. This is a very special community. Authenticity and being present with the raw human experience both resonate with this group.

So, needless to say in celebrating the New Year, there was excitement, there was fervor, but most importantly, there was intention.  We started the session with egg shakers.

You might be surprised to find out that the egg shaker possesses deep, strong, true power when infused with one’s most personal wishes and genuine intentions for the New Year. We all took a turn at shaking out our intentions. These included certain states of mind, people to attract into our lives, and resolutions. We did not share our intention verbally. We only played the rhythm of our intention. Each person took a turn, played his/her rhythm out loud for the group, the group joined in with that individual’s rhythm for validation and acknowledgment. And then we moved on to the next person in the circle.

Once we had all shared our New Years rhythm on the egg shakers, we spread out a big white canopy sheet. Everyone grabbed an edge of the soft cloth. When we were ready, we threw our egg shakers into the canopy, sang Auld Lang Syne, then swooped our shakers as high as possible into the sky! Our intentions had exploded into the cosmos.

Then we drummed. Thanks to Remo, Inc., we were equipped with plenty of drums for a grand New Year’s rhythm ritual. We used a drum call, we soloed, we shaped and sculpted out our lives ~ our new lives of 2010 ~ onto our drums. Yes, these inspiring, vibrant octogenarians begin new, rich lives in the new year! We sang together while resting our drum-beating hands in between grooves, and the group even taught me a “new” song: It’s a Sin to Tell a Lie.

We ended with a special celebratory circle. One by one, we shared our intention verbally in front of the group, then we rumbled them in for the New Year. Some personal intentions (or as I like to refer to them “words from the wise”) included:

Experience each moment
No matter what happens live contentedly
Feel happiness
Come to drumming class every time
Attract positive people into life
Nurture good relations with family members

At the end, we counted down New Years on the drums with BIG BEATS
10… 9… 8… 7… 6… 5… 4… 3… 2… 1  Happy New Year!

Afterwards, one gentleman approached me and with a look of sincerity, he said “You know, Kat, you bring so much joy to so many people. You really do.” I was humbled and touched. Music is powerful.

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Qualcomm DRUMS

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They say that team-building was the ropes course in the 80s, office foosball in the 90s, and now drum circles for the new millennium and beyond! And really, it makes perfect sense because drumming is accessible no matter the level of physical fitness, drumming is intergenerational, and drumming cuts straight through language and cultural barriers. For larger corporate events, drumming brings the engineer, marketer, administrator, management team, and the rest of the departments together working towards the same goal.

Our last drum circle at Qualcomm, Inc. took place during lunch at a community event called QSOL (Qualcomm Summers on the Lawn). My colleague, the very talented special guest facilitator Dayna Koehn co-facilitated the event. The relaxed atmosphere, the beautiful lawn, and the BBQ offered a casual, fun, and entertaining opportunity for employees to make music together and build the community.

Drumming is at the core of our very existence. People drum because we are biologically programmed to do so! Language is rhythm, breathing is rhythm, walking is rhythm. Drumming connects us to our bodies, minds, and spirits, then opens up space for creative thinking and a new perspective.

Research shows that drum circles and active music-making prevent burnout and enhance physical and emotional well-being. As a Remo Endorsed Facilitator, I and my team tailor this vibrant experience to the following needs: leadership development, efficiency in communication, increased productivity, stress-management skills, community building, and/or diversity training.

The purpose of the QSOL event was community building within the company. And the drumming component fit right into the equation. Participants looked around at each other, smiled and said “Man, now I’ve let it out!” and “Mm, I feel good.”

At QSOL, it wasn’t only the employees who reaped the benefits of making music. In addition, kids of Qualcomm employees came up to explore all the different instruments from around the world.

Opher Bonarie, head of the Qualcomm community hand drumming club, stated “”Kat Fulton and the staff from Sound Health Music made it possible to offer a casual event that even first-time drummers enjoyed tremendously.  The feedback was 100% positive, with several people asking when we can repeat it.  I hope to be working on future projects with Kat for many years to come.”
Qualcomm + Drums = Community.

Needs: Community building
Interventions: Active music-making, chanting, movement, drum call, sculpting and shaping the circle
Outcomes: Smiles, laughter, connection among co-workers via eye contact, rhythmic entrainment among co-workers via physical movement and sound, and positive statements about individual talent

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NICU Music Therapy Overview

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Video, An Overview of NICU Music Therapy

Visit the National Institute for Infant and Child Medical Music Therapy to learn more.

With the NICU MT specialized training, board-certified music therapists assess, develop and implement a treatment plan, document measurements and observations, adjust the treatment plan, and evaluate the effectiveness of services for infants in a neonatal intensive care unit. Using culturally specific, preferred, live music, board-certified music therapists achieve positive behavioral and physiological changes in the babies and reduced stress for the parents. Music therapy techniques may involve recording the mother’s singing voice to play for baby, facilitating song-writing with a sibling, or gently humming lullabies specific to baby’s native language. Multimodal stimulation, a developmental care technique, is the most commonly used technique. Immediate effects of music therapy interventions include increased oxygen saturation levels and decreased distress behaviors. Long-term effects include higher feeding rate, accelerated weight gain, shorter hospital stay, and self-regulated heart and respiration rates. Board-certified music therapists are able to train parents to use this technique in the hospital and eventually the home.

In addition, research shows that music therapy in the NICU reduces the overall decibel level, masking aversive noise. People speak softer, walk more carefully, and keep their voices down. Oxymeter machines beep less often because the live, predictable, structured nature of the music increases all the surrounding babies’ oxygen saturation levels. Research also shows that there is a cumulative decibel level reduction over 7 weeks of live music therapy provided twice per week.

There are approximately 30 hospitals in the world currently providing NICU music therapy. This number has rapidly increased from only 7 hospitals in 2002. The earlier we nurture and promote the neurological development of a preemie, the less likely the baby will have a developmental disability.


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