Beijing, China ~ May 2019

E R Ichee Laye – 1  2 Lets all Play in Mandarin

Hello My Friends,

This year’s program was our second full 6-day Playshop in Beijing. Given that we are doing 4 Playshops in four different Chinese cities a year (each program with an average population of 75 participants), it is not surprising that we are scheduling regular 6-day Playshops in China.

Nellie Hill’s and my DCF Handbook has been translated and published in Mandarin Chinese, and the Rhythmical Alchemy Playshop book is slated to be translated into Chinese and published by next year.

After doing programs in China for 9 years, we have finally established a Drum Circle Facilitators China, a non-government organization (its illegal to use the words Association without the government’s permission).

Although, at this time, the DCFC cannot be directly associated with our American DCFGuild, it is modeled after the DCFG organizing principles and the elected officers of both groups are coordinating and communicating with each other as much as possible. The Chinese DCFC was initiated only last January, and they already have 300 members.

Nunu, Zhang Nu, (a VMC protégé and two time Hawaii graduate) is Chairman of the organization. He will be doing his Mentor program on the North shore of Oahu with Jim Boneau and myself-elf this summer.

There are 9 people working in the all-volunteer DCFChina organization. They include 4 vice chairmen and 3 secretariats. Although all of them are VMC graduates, they are creating an inclusive organization that excepts anyone who is doing DCFacilitation, regardless if they were trained by me or not.

This year’s 6-Day Playshop was particularly great for me, because all three levels of the China style 3-Level system was well represented. That gave me lots of material to work with.

We had ten Level-3 participants at this Playshop fully participating with all radars fully on. Although 6 of them have already attended five or more VMC programs, the Level-3 people just keep coming back time and time again to the Playshops.

For Chocolate - Panda - Yao - Boom -  Nunu - Gloria and Fox, (their ‘Western' names), this Playshop is not their first Level-3 experience. These are the the people who are becoming the Elders-In-Training and mentors for our growing recreational drumming and rhythm care community in China.

With this solid advanced Level-3 group, all I had to do, was to tell them to go have a meeting and work out amongst themselves, who would do the morning Drum Call for each day, who would be the scribe and critique for each Drum Call, and who would do the Mini-Drum Call after Lunch each day. They left the room and came back in 10 minutes, handing me an AM Drum Call/Critique schedule for the week. My kids are growing up and I am a proud Uncle.

In this Playshop there were fifteen Level-2 participants who have graduated from their first 3-Day experience, and since then they have facilitated at least 12 rhythm events to qualify for participating in the Level-2 part of the Playshop. The rest of the 6-Day Playshop population, the other fifty people, were first time Level-1 participants.

What is great about this China training system, is that the lower level participants get a chance to see the next level participants being challenged. That way they know what to expect when they return to their next Playshop and prepare for it in the real drum circle world.

Our VMC Playshop training system process in the rest of the world is a little more organic, but has the same purpose and intent. The Chinese like the structured level system. It fits their culture.

The triplicities that each level group is studying in the chart below, explain the process that participants go through as they return to the 3-day playshops, and get progressively challenged at their own level of knowledge and experience.


Here are some of the ways that we are integrating the 3 level system into the VMC Playshop experience:

  • In order to schedule the “Open Sharing” sessions that we have held, at all of our 6-Day Playshops, a “Plenum” meeting where the whole population decides what subjects that they want covered and who their peer-presenters will be.

To try this with 75 Chinese, it would take half a day and would be more like herding cats. After so many years of doing this, we know some of the basic subjects that will be requested to be covered will be: Beginner hand drum class - working with kids - DCFacilitator Business development - working with special needs populations etc.

So I had the Level-3 group get together and decide who would best present which subjects, and deliver them in the evening between Free Form Jump Time and Late night.

Most Late Nights have been a chaotic mess in China, so I have instigated a “Late Night Rhythm Exploration” session where we do a full throated drum jam for a designated period of time. Then we bring it to a close and start up an intentional "Late-Late Night" - Deep Listening Session, where the intention is to create space for creativity with notes instead of filling up space with notes.

We experimented with this “Two-Session style with Late & Late-Late Night at the East Coast 6-Day at Myrtle Beach this year with great success.

With a little “Cultural” tweaking, it has also been a success here in the Beijing 6-Day. The next test is to see how it will work as a one-time evening event at our Southern China 3-Day Playshop in Nanchang next week.

  • Along with doing the Challenge program and advanced modeling for the Level-2 participants, the Level-3 participants helped lead the breakouts and did a little supportive mini-mentoring on the side. In these China programs, I am stretching the Level-3’s radars from facilitating the circle to facilitating the Playshop training process.
  • One element of "mini-mentoring" that I give the Level-3 participants, is during the “Freeform Jump-Time” exercises in the program. When a Level-1 or Level-2 participant has finished their two-minute experimental facilitation “Jump” in the circle, they run out to where a Level-3 has been watching them and waiting, to receive a two-minute feedback critique.
  • The Level-3s are now running the full 15-minute morning Drum Calls on their own. While one Level-3 does the drum call, another Level-3 scribes the facilitation interventions and then gives a public critique to the full group with “future pacing” educational elements embedded in the critique.
  • After each tea break, a Level-2 participant does a 5-minute “freeform” drum call and gets a private critique from an assigned Level-3 person immediately afterwords.

The Beijing recreational drumming community is well established and our family-friendly closing community drum circles are always a lot of fun with nice surprises. This one was no exception.

Having new first time time drum circle participants in the circle with a few excited “Random Factor” kids running around in our closing event, gave the Playshop trainees a good “reality check” about what facilitating a REAL drum circle might be like. But no matter who went into the circle to facilitate, they had 70 shills in this 150 person event for support. That is not quite a real life example of what is waiting for them outside our perfect Playshop training circles, but it is a halfway step closer.

Tonny, from KHS, and I are discussing how to bring Jim Boneau over to China next year to do a full-on 10-day overlapping Mentor Program.

In the meantime, there will be at least 5 people from China who will be attending their Mentor program in Hawaii in August. It should be lots of fun. Come join us….

After a short rest at the Emperors Harvest Temple here in Beijing, I will be flying down to Guangzhou (near Hong Kong) to facilitate a 3-Day Playshop.

Yep, the rumor that I am retired is just a rumor…   

Demographics for the Beijing 6-Day Playshop:

22 School Teachers

18 Music Teachers

7 Drum Teachers

14 Music Therapist

8 Elderly related Professionals

3 Kids at Risk Professionals

10 Special Needs Professionals

14 Corporate Facilitators

14 Psychotherapist

13 Infant-Toddler Facilitators

8 Medically related, Doctors, Nurses and Health care Professionals

22 School Rhythm Event Facilitators

9 Community Drum Circles Facilitators

1 Rhythm events  facilitator in Prisons

2 Professional Musicians and orchestra conductors

5 Culturally specific drummers

28 People Connected to nonprofit organizations

ALL Recreational Drummers

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