Germany DrumAbout – OCT 2016 – YouTube Learning “The little girl”

Hello My Friends,

Jürgen Engel (Yurgen) was our only non-VMC graduate organizer on this tour. He is self-taught and has created the beginnings of a great drum circle community in the Frankfurt Germany area.

He is a Non-Violent-Communication workshop presenter who got the bug sitting in a drum circle and taught himself to facilitate from the YouTube videos on the internet, plus one mini-class from Mathias from Percussion+M.

The only outreach of his drum circles in Frankfurt has been a calling card of a picture of a hand on a Djembe head with the words “Come Drum With Us” and, on the back, a url to a MeetUp site for the events. It, and the usual word of mouth, has worked well, and he brought a nice group in for the afternoon Rhythmical Alchemy Playshop as well as had a healthy population of regulars and Newbees for the evening drum circle.

When I threw Jürgen (Yurgen) into the center to facilitate at the evening drum circle event, I watched him exhibit different styles, body language movements, and “Signature Techniques” from two of my 6-day graduates, Mathias, Kalani, and others as well as myself in his facilitation. You model what you see.

Jürgen had “Good Face” in his rapport and relationship with the circle players. His body language was clear and succinct. His timing was very good. The facilitation pieces that he learned from YouTube, were well delivered but he was just “Doing Stuff”. He was throwing in different facilitation pieces and glueing them together. The passion that he has shown for connecting the contributed rhythms together to help the players make the musical magic was inspiring.

So I saw that it was the “Big Picture” in the overall facilitation of a drum circle event that he was missing. He has got the "What to Do” down very well, but he couldn’t get the “When to do it” or the “Why Your Doing It” from all the bits of YouTube videos of facilitation that are available on the internet.

Thats Until Now!!

When Jürgen stepped out of the grooving circle, I gave him a few "Next Step” critiques, and then told him to go to the cover page of my website and watch the free one-hour video covering the four stages of the Village Music Circles DCProtocol (What to do, When & some of the Why).

If you’re a self-taught Internet DCFacilitation learner, then after you gather up and practice all the bits and pieces of YouTube DCFacilitation sequences you can find (The WHAT), Then GO here and watch "The New Video!" that we created for our VMC facilitator training programs (with the help of some of our best facilitators in the community). It is called "The Art of Drum Circle Facilitation.” Watch it and you will then get the “WHEN’ to do it and some of the “WHY.”

The Frankfurt Rhythmical Alchemy Playshop program was more like the the Ginsheim Facilitators RAP, rather than the Berlin Groovy RAP. When I did the demographics for the Frankfurt RAP, 2/3s of the population were attending to LEARN the games, and 1/3 of the attendees were there to PLAY the games. 

This program was half an hour longer than the other RAPs on this DrumAbout, so I was able to accommodate both the groove and the learning needs of the group and everyone was happy by the end. 

I followed the same litany of games in this program, as in the other RAPs on the tour, so next time I come back to Germany and do a full weekend Rhythmical Alchemy Playshop, I would have a foundational reference for the seeds that I’ve already planted here.

There are always good teaching stories happening in a drum circle for me to report to you. And there are always facilitation learnings to gleam from any DCEvent that I have, that I could share with you.

In the Frankfurt drum circle, one story would include the excited little boy slamming his mallet on a REMO Bahia bass at full volume. The challenge for us facilitators was that excited boy was actually occupying the body of a 40-year old man who was our constant “Ramdon Factor” for the whole evening, and how each of us dealt with that situation. But in this report, I would like to focus on the story of little dark haired girl.


At the beginning of the event, I am in the middle of the circle facilitating Drum Call (The 7 elements).

In the center row are three 11-ish year old girls sitting next to each other. One of the girls, the little dark haired girl, sat with her head down with her hands resting on her drum and her eyes full of tears.

One of her girlfriends leans over and verbally encourages her to participate. The little dark haired girl shakes her head back and forth with a defiant no. Hair and tears flying, she jumps up, running past me through the middle of the circle and disappears out the community center door.

Her girlfriend, looking at me, rolled her eyes, with her hands in the air she shrugs her shoulders and then goes on drumming. 

[[[ When something like this happens in your circle, You really don’t know the back story. Did her friend make her come here and she was being too intimidated by the sound of drums to stay? Was she too embarrassed because she didn’t know how to play the drums. Was she sad because of something that happened in her life before she came to the drum circle. And on and on etc. You just don’t know (Whats underneath the tip of the iceberg?).

Had she stayed in the circle, maybe I could have possibly played a part in a scenario that could guide her to a better emotional place.  But woohs!! she’s gone and there is nothing that I can do about that..]]]

People are still coming into the room. Someone occupies the little dark haired girl’s chair and drum while I complete Drum Call and initiate our 3-way co-facilitated drum circle.

20 minutes later into the event, the little dark haired girl enters the room and takes a lone seat in the back of the circle behind the last row of players. Eyes red, head down, unhappy face, shoulders slumping.

Ben gets a shaker and hands it to her while inviting her back into the event. She takes it gingerly, and holding it in her lap, she’s barely shaking it.

Sitting in the center circle, her girlfriends are fully integrated into the dynamic rhythm that the players are creating. Happy and excited, they look back at her and wave. She gives a timid wave back.

I see that I have a specific mission challenge in this event, and proceed to initiate it.

[[[ When I have to “Fix" something in a drum circle that deals with a simple technical thing that needs to be accomplished with a specific player, I sometimes can use the “Sneaky Vegetable” Elf trick, where I go up to someone playing in the circle and point to a point outside the circle, a little off to their side and away from me.

While they are looking away distracted, I would make an quick "instrument switch" so when they looked back, they find themselves playing with a mallet rather than a drum stick, or they find themselves playing a conga rather than a Djembe, or they find themselves playing their JunJun with one stick rather than two…. You get the picture.]]]

So when I see that the little dark haired girl is settled into the groove with her shaker, I walk up to her and point outside the circle. As she looks away from me in the direction that I’m pointing, I pull the “Sneaky Vegetable” switch trick on her. When she looks down, instead of a shaker in her hands, she is holding a REMO Sound Shape in one hand and a Remo rubber ball mallet in the other. [[[ I have just upgraded her into a more rhythmically interactive drumming situation. ]]]

She looks up at me a little surprised, but she smiles, her first one, and begins to play.

About 5 minutes later as I see that she is solid into the groove, I pull another “Sneaky Vegetable” switch trick on her.

As I walk up to her with one hand behind my back holding a light REMO pre-tuned Djembe, I point to the same spot outside the circle as I did before.

She smiles knowing what is about to happen and, happy to play the game, she looks away to where I am pointing and I pull the switch.

When she looks back, the mallet and Sound Shape are gone, replaced with the Djembe.

The smile drops off of her face like a cup of coffee falling off of a car dashboard on a quick turn. The smile is replaced with a look of fright that quickly runs from her face, down through her whole body. She stops breathing and her hands pull involuntary back from the drum as if it would bite her.

She is immediately in a high state of “Student Crises Mode.” 

[[[ Now I know why she cried and ran out of the room. Performance anxiety! ]]]

The little dark haired girl looks up at me with scared face and dampening eyes, but she timidly begins to play the drum with her fingertips.

Realizing my mistake, I quickly say, “Wait!, there is one more thing.” I run over to our percussion boxes pulling out a pair of Remo rubber ball mallets.

Then I pull another Arthurian style “Sneaky Vegetable” Elf trick. Pretending not to be paying attention to her and looking out over the grooving drum circle, I walk slowly in front of the little dark haired girl with by back to her.

With one hand held behind my back, holding the rubber ball mallets, I slowly back up towards the little dark haired girl’s drum until I can feel the mallets being taken out of my hands. Then without looking back, I walk away and around to the other side of the circle. When I look across the circle at the little dark haired girl, she is happily playing the Djembe with the mallets. [[[ No technique needed ]]] The smile is back.
Now I have just one more thing to do to complete my self-assigned mission. Once I see that she has a good relationship with her drum and the group rhythm, I walk into the center of the circle while its in full groove.

With only body language, I gesture to the little dark haired girl’s two friends, asking them to scoot their chairs away from each other. When they make space between them as I asked, I grab a empty chair and place it into that space in the center row.

Then I walk back to the little dark haired girl who is sitting alone in the back behind the back row of the circle playing on the djembe with her mallets. [[ Playing very well, I might add ]]
Once again I point at our well established “distraction” spot outside the circle. She complies and looks away, knowing something is about to happen. 

When she looks back, she sees me walking away with her djembe down the drum circle aisle-way towards the center of the circle.

While holding her two mallets in the air, she looks at me quizingly as I theatrically set the djembe down in front of the empty chair that sits between her two friends. Her smile broadens as she figures out what is about to happen.

Making sure the little dark haired girl is still watching, I take off my hat and theatrically wipe off the head of the drum, and then the empty chair, making her laugh.

After I put my hat back on my head, I make a theatrical gesture with my left hand towards her as she sits alone in the back of the back row of the circle while, at the same time, I make another gesture with my right hand, inviting her towards the empty chair that is sitting in-between her two girlfriends. 

Her eyes light up as she jumps out of her seat. Still holding the rubber ball mallets in her hands, she skips down the aisle way to sit in the center row to drum with her girlfriends.

When I walk out of the circle and turn around to see the little dark haired girl sitting in between her two friends happily drumming with her mallets, I know that my mission is complete.

She is no longer crying. I am.

Life is a dance when you sharing your spirit….  Arthur   {]]’;-)