Barcelona, Spain 2016 Report

Hello My Friends...

It is "Indian Summer" here in Barcelona, Catalonia Northren Spain. The city is right on the Mediterranean sea, and no matter where you are in the city, the breeze brings the ocean to you.

To me, Barcelona is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. With a minimum if high-rise office buildings and a maximum of big square blocks of 6-8 story apartment buildings with ornate balconies jutting out over the wide streets, it is the most “Homey” metropolitan city I know. Each block of apartment buildings hides a large park in their centers, for the private use of the dwellers.

Culture Day

For my culture day, Pau and I walked around the famous Park Güell by Antoni Gaudí. Gaudí was strongly influenced by natural organic shapes and used them in his work. Known for his organic architectural designs, especially the famous "Basilica Sagrada Familia Cathedral," Gaudi spent most of his life in Barcelona.


Park Güell contains amazing stone structures with stunning tiling and unique buildings. He was involved in a real-estate scheme that was to have 60 homes built on a large hillside, surrounded by lots of parks overlooking the topaz-colored Mediterranean sea. His residence was situated in the park that he was designing. Although the real-estate development failed with only a few houses built, Gaudi had nearly completed the surrounding hillside park in his usual colorful and uniquely organic style.

One of his walkways is supported by twisting stone pillars. The pillars seem to be growing out of the ground like tree trunks, in a way you couldn’t tell if they were designed by God or Gaudi. Now the park is so crowded by tourists that you have to get an appointment to visit parts of it. But, many years ago when Pau was 8 years old, and before Park Güell became a tourist destination, Pau would go there and ride his bike. No appointment needed.

The Playshop

This year in the Spain Playshop we had one third returnee Playshop graduates population doing the Challenge program. Two thirds of the attendees came for the Basic Facilitator Training from quite a few countries. There is no 3-day German Playshop this year because of the upcoming 9-city DrumAbout in Deutschland, so we had a lot of Germans in the Spain Playshop this year. This playshop was a great combination of beginning beginners and advanced facilitators.

The VMC graduate returnees showed up big time and played on the edge of their experience and knowledge. That, of course, kicked the Playshop into full speed very quickly.

Oliver Solmat is one of our graduate returnees who has attended all of the Barcelona Playshops. During a break, Oliver cornered me and peppered me with some very good and pointed DC business and metaphor delivery questions. It turns out that he is doing Mary Tolena’s "The Business of Drumming in Business" and loves it. Oliver is turning, what was once a fun facilitation hobby, into a exciting business.

Over this last year of Playshops I have tested out the new Facilitators' Playshop (FAC) Workbook. An important change I have made in the Village Music Circles Playshop training protocol, is to have a challenge volunteer do a 15-minute "Drum Call" at the beginning of the Saturday Playshop, (with a public critique), and then on the beginning of the Sunday program, have a challenge volunteer do a 1-minute "Run the Map" (also with a public critique).

So I have moved the "Run the Map" exercise from Saturday AM to Sunday AM to make room for the "Drum Call" Challenge assignment on Saturday. This has shown to be very effective in helping the Playshop participants understand the progressive nature of the VMC drum circle protocol. These critique sessions also give me an unplanned, unscripted window of communication in the VMC facilitator training.

These morning Challenge critique windows affords me the flexibility to introduce different concepts and subjects that I think need to be exemplified for that particular group. I have not done these critique windows the same way in any of the recent Playshops where I have applied them, and yet they have always been effective for that particular program and population. I am excited to be adding this very flexible piece to the Playshop.

Pau Gimeno is our very successful Regional Organizer in Spain. He is a teacher at the University of Barcelona and also a Music Therapist who works with adults in different hospitals around the city. Pau will be attending our Scotland 10-day Mentor program at the end of this year’s Playshop tour. I can tell just by the massive population that showed up for our closing drum circle, Pau is doing an excellent job building rhythm community here in Northren Spain.

This year’s Playshop was, one again, held at the prestigious music college "Escola Superior De Music de Catalunya.”

Ramon Torramilaus is the head of the department of contemporary music at the college. He attended last year’s Playshop and dropped in to this one from time to time. Ramon gave us the use of their fantastic airy and well-lit Symphony Practice room again this year.

It seems like the better the room sounds, the more listening can occur amongst the players, and the more dynamic the drumming can get. The drum circle sound was most outstandingly excellent in this Symphony Practice room. By the end of the Playshop, we were in tune with each other enough to use the room to it’s best advantage and create some great soft dynamic music pieces.

As the usual part of our exchange for the use of this great sounding room, I did a lecture-demonstration presentation to music professors and students on the function and purpose of a facilitated drum circle at the Music School. The word had gotten out around the campus about how successful and dynamically entertaining last years lecture-demonstration event was, so this year we had a LOT more students than professors. Of course, the lecture-demonstration somehow turned into a great drum circle event. Gee, I don’t know what happened…Snicker-Snicker {]’;-)

We had to maintain school hours, so in order to do our usual Saturday night 'Late Night' session, we closed the Training at 8pm and moved downtown to a bar built like a barn. We had dinner and then jammed into some great deep trance grooves. With such a great mix of returnees from all over Europe, it is needless to say that we went DEEP into late night groove and stayed there until 1am+. We all slept in late and started the Sunday session at 10am.

Coralie was our translator again this year. She not only translates my English into Spanish but she translates my passion as well. A big thank you to Coralie for being my evangelist voice in Spain.

There will be a few non-English speaking Spanish participants at the Scotland 6-day Playshop this year. They have hired Coralie to come as their interpreter, just like the Non-English speaking Japanese group that hired TomTom to come along to this year’s 6-day Hawaii Professional Development program as their interpreter. These programs are truly becoming international.

GEWA is the REMO distributor for a large part of Europe. The three kits of the different types and sizes of the Versa drum series, that GEWA gave Pau last year, have been well used since then. Pau has made the drums available to the general community through the “Facilitator Family” organization that Pau has organized. They have been doing a drum circle a month that has been co-facilitated by rotating members of this VMC facilitator family. This type of co-op drum circle facilitation is facilitator community-building and recreational drumming community-building at it’s best.

Thanks to REMO’s financial support for my flights on this year’s Village Music Circle's Playshop Tours. It helps us keep the price of the programs accessible to the community.

Our large family-friendly community drum circle held in the spacious symphony rehearsal hall was a total success. The Playshop graduates behaved themselves by not jumping on top of each other, and so leaving lots of group groove space in-between facilitation sequences. They did appropriate interventions at the right time during the event while creating a full and complete rhythmical and musical experience for mom, dad and the kids. Like I said last year, "I did not have to do much at this drum circle; my “Kids” had it well in hand.”

I am a proud Papa  {]]’;-)


Here comes the list of all the usual suspects that show up to these trainings. I have to step back every once in awhile and realize that each of these categories represents the massive inroads that this recreational rhythm movement has permeated itself into, within the many aspects of today’s society.

  • 8 School Teachers
  • 12 Music Teachers
  • 5 Drum Teachers
  • 17 Music Therapist
  • 8 Elderly related Professionals
  • 9 Adults At Risk Professionals
  • 5 Kids at Risk Professionals
  • 13 Special Needs Professionals
  • 7 Corporate Facilitators
  • 2 Psychotherapist
  • 6 Infant- Toddler Facilitators
  • 5 Medical related, Doctors, Nurses and Health care Professionals
  • 8 School Rhythm Event Facilitators
  • 11 Community Drum Circles Facilitators
  • 4 Drum Makers
  • 7 Professional Musicians
  • 6 People Connected to nonprofit organizations

All Recreational Drummers
All Trouble Makers

On to Denmark….   {]]’;-)