Ireland DrumAbout, Oh the GREEN! – SEP 2017

Hello My Friends,

Deep green on light green on blue green on unworldly green - surrounds us as we as drive through countless tree tunnels on little Irish broein back roads. While traversing over stone bridges, we pass around and through farm villages, large and small, as well as hundreds of fields, speckled with thousands of wooly sheep. White poke-a-dots scattered across the face of this emerald isle.

Yep, its another Irish DrumAbout. With four cities/villages visited here, plus the four Spain cities, that makes a two country 8-city DrumAbout for this year’s Europe Playshop tour. Considering the 10-city Japan DrumAbout two years ago and the 9-city Germany DrumAbout last year, that’s par for the course.

DrumAbouts for me are tithings that Pay-It-Forward. I recommend that every DCFacilitator do a tithing gig for free once in awhile, if not as a “Pay It Forward” activity, at least as a reminder of your humble beginnings and as an acknowledgment to yourself for having been given the talent and amazing privilege of being a rhythm evangelist and rhythm caregiver.

Give your tithing DC gig to the people who can afford it the least, but need it the most. I can guarantee you that, in the long run, what you will eventually get back will be much-much more than you ever give out. Although tithing pays you back with many dividends, its not about the money.  {]]’;-)

Sinead Harte, (soon to be a VMC-Certified Facilitator), and Lukasz Sunshield (many time VMC Graduate), were my coordinators for this wonderful adventure.

Sinead moved me around the emerald isle from village to town to city. Also Randy (Mountain-climber), Pomeroy from Seattle, traveled along with us through the whole trip as chaperone/roady and friend.

There were four stops on this Irish DrumAbout:

#1 - Castleruddery

I arrived on the island the day Dave Coler usually holds his weekly drumming circle at his famous straw-bale yurt-temple. He asked me if I would run his evening circle.

“Sure! What do you want me to do” I asked. “Share Your Spirit!” he answered.

Dave has built a beautiful circular building, 30 feet in diameter. It is made of bales of hay covered in stucko. Like a lid placed on top of a kettle, the roof of the 15 foot tall straw cylinder temple is a wooden pyramid. At the point of the pyramid are large triangler panels of glass that lets the moon and starlight in when the room is dark.

This beautiful white-walled circular temple is nestled in the rolling woods near his house on his property. It is used as his wife’s homeopathic healing studio during the day and as a community Music-Drumming-Toning-Sound Bath & Meditation center during the evenings.

The sound in this circular pyramid-roofed room was great. I would call it a dead room (as posed to a “HOT” loud and echo-y room). The temple room has no echo kick back and reflectively vibrates just enough resonance from the drumming to create and enhance the sources’s acoustic reverb. The drum sound penetrates the thin layer of stucko that covers the bales of hay, allowing the hay to be a sound absorbent.

This event was a last minute add-on to the DrumAbout. Since the offer and acceptance was made on the day that I arrived, Dave did not inform his people that I was coming. Instead they were given a surprise as they entered an improvisational sound environment created by the Arthurian Elf and their friends.

HUH??? Whats this?... In-The-Moment Music?... Oh Yea!

In the beginning, we did do a little “Universal Principles of Hand Drumming” to support and enhance Dave’s drumming sessions that he had been giving to his circle. We then moved into “Rhythmical Alchemy Playshop” drum circle games that put the group in tune with itself. That tuning lead into some solid grooves for the rest of the night.

At the end of the evening, I taught Camberto (the 6/8 version), a Haitian/Bembe “inspired” arrangement that is so accessible to beginning beginner drummers. When properly presented, Camberto teaches a tremendous amount in a short time, about the foundations of triplet form time signature drumming.

#2 - Baltinglass

In the early days, Baltinglass was once a major milling town that provided milled grains to the rest of Ireland. It had a train line to Dublin, now an hours car drive from here.

The valley between the mountains, that tower over Baltinglass, provided a straight path between two major provinces, Connacht and Leinster. So, of course, the English wanted it during their occupation of Ireland during the 1798 rebellion. That rebellion precluded the division of 6 Northern counties and Ireland. This is one of the sites where, during the Irish rebellion, the British did some ethnic cleansing, killing a large part of the population (During those days, that sad and nasty story repeated throughout Ireland). The history of the brutality of the English occupation is still held fresh in the Irish consciousness. That period of history, or some elements of its ramifications, are often referred to in my daily conversations with the people here.

Sinead has good relations with the new Special Needs Center in town. They are planning on using that space for her regular community drum circles. Our special DrumAbout event was the launch for those monthly DCs. It is also the site of the drum circle that she did as a fundraiser to help her get to her VMC Mentor Training in Hawaii. As part of his ongoing “Seeding the Circles” Mentoring mission, Paul Dear was there to support her.

This particular drum circle had a large proportion of family with kids who ranged from 4 years to teen hood. At first it was a fun chaotic event with a high population of energetic disrupters and distractive radon factors. So I started the event as a Kids circle. Once I got the kids settled down and in focus, special needs person, named Jake, was wheeled into the circle. Jake was my next challenge. I had them put Jake next to me so I could have good relations with him and control what ever issues that might come up. Once I, subvertly, got the sticks out of his hands and procured the right drum for him, Jake did just fine and gleefully participated during the whole event.

Finally, I was able to instigate a few drum circle games with the moms, dads and grandparents that put us into full groove mode, so the kids could come and go without disrupting the flow. We had a great finish, as Sinead made new connections with her community, and Randy and I roadied.

“I Drum! Therefore I Roady!”

#3 - Dublin

We held our Dublin community drum circle at the Lantern Center, the same church which has been the usual DC site for the last five years. Thank you to Tom Quinn for bringing me into this healthy metropolitan recreational drumming community.

Since it was an “All Drum” drum circle, I used the “Groove To Solo” game to warm them up and also to get a sense of the group. Then when I got “nearly” all the players to listen across the circle, I then pulled out some simple Rhythmical Alchemy Playshop Volume #1 DCGames to get the different grooves started.

It was a very full, groovy night. With a “HOT” sounding room, there was a lot of volume dynamics facilitation sequences, including Fade To Nothing at the end.

#4 - Galway

Galway is situated on the far west coast of Ireland. Sitting right on the ocean, it has an ancient port and lots of beaches both north and south of the city. The city is so old that it’s roads were built from goat paths that don’t know the words “straight ahead.” Most of them that are not near or around the port are narrow and windy.

The program that Lukas Sunshield created for his community was very clean, scheduled with breaks in-between each session:

  • Universal Principles of Hand Drumming…. Spots in time - packages of notes - universal patterns - the three universal hand dances.
  • Rhythmical Alchemy Playshop…. Groove to solo (the complete series) - By the Numbers - Rumble pitch to groove and a few Layering in a rhythm games.
  • Community Drum Circle - All the people who attended the other two programs stayed for the drum circle. Also we added a few more players to fatten up the circle. That meant that I had more “shills in the circle than drum circle “guests.”

So with a fully tuned ensemble, we grooved of into the night.

For the closing groove at this last stop on our Ireland DrumAbout, we used the simple and basic “Layering in a Rhythm” game to get started. Sinead was playing a set of Dun-duns, so I invited her to start the layering in a rhythm groove. She started simple melodic pattern that was slow and spacey (in a good way).

In most mixed community grooves, a rhythm started this slow, with so much space between the notes, would be changed within just a few measures of “Layerings.” The space between the notes would be filled up with more notes and tempo would be rushed or “double timed” thus changing the shape and the feel of the originating groove.

But in this situation, most of the members of this Drum Circle “Ensemble” have been playing together for over 3 hours:

  • In the first hour they studied the foundational elements that makes interactive group rhythm and music work.
  • Then in the next hour they played drum circle games that instigated “Playing Consciousness” elements in the group such as:
  • Using your notes to make space for other players creativity
  • Collaborative interaction - Creating interactive dialogue amongst the players
  • Pitch relationship - the building blocks of music
  • Listening as much as playing - Leaving enough rhythmic space in the circle for other players to express themselves
  • Supporting the fundamental groove
  • • Volume dynamics - increasing or decreasing the volume according to the group energy -
  • Softer Volume - Creates More Listening - More Listening Creates More Music
  • Share the soloing space - “Its all about YOU, and its not all about you”
  • Finding, supporting and creating “Harmonics” amongst the instruments - “Angels in the Music”
  • KISS, Keeping It Stupidly Simple - creates deep listening and deeper grooves

So the last drum circle hour was a most excellent experience for all of us. And the best DC event of the tour so far.

After I did Drum Call to integrate the new arrivals, I skipped “Facilitator” mode and went straight to Orchestrator. That was because the group was already self-facilitating its own music and as a whole, this ensemble was fully engaged in Orchestrational consciousness.

Ahhhhh “Late night!”…. (without the late)

What a wonderful way to end this second Ireland DrumAbout. Thank you Sinead for the deep groove and the depth of your Witchery-Goddess Spirit.

Slainte (pronounced Shalancha) an Irish word used to toast. It means “to your good health.”

Now on to England…


Life is a dance