By Arthur Hull & Christine Stevens

Christine Stevens Arthur Hull co-facilitating


Simply put; co-facilitation is two people facilitating a rhythm-based event together as a team.


Each facilitator is special, with unique talents.  Even though we are all adhering to, and utilizing the same universal principles of group music making, when we are facilitating a rhythm based event we are doing it with an entirely different kind of style and energy than any one else.  When you combine the energies, ideas and talents of two people facilitating the same rhythm event together, you create a powerful and exciting alchemy that we call co-facilitation.

  • Helps you play at the edge of your facilitation abilities
  • Adds an exciting dynamic to a facilitated event
  • When working together towards the same outcome, two heads are better than one
  • Demonstrate balance of male and female when co-facilitators are man and woman.
  • Adds a theatrical element to the process
  • Doubles the potential of gifts the facilitators can offer the circle
  •  Co-facilitation is a lot more fun and easier than single facilitation with very large groups.

In both Arthur’s and Christine’s experience in Asia, co-facilitation teams are the emerging paradigm for that culture.

There is a 30 second segment on the Village Music Circle DVD that shows Christine and Arthur co-facilitating a series of calls and responses that epitomizes the essential nature of successful co- facilitation.  Here is a description of that co-facilitation.  Later you will see that this is alternating co-facilitation model

  • Arthur led a bell call and as the group responded, he ran off the orchestration point as Christine ran in.
  • Christine did the next call with her bell, adding one voice yell. The group responded with her bell – voice pattern. Christine ran off the orchestration point as Arthur ran in.
  • Arthur did the next call, adding an extra vocal sound. As this co-facilitated bell & voice call and response sequence continued, the call patterns progressively evolved towards an exciting mixture of half instrumental and half vocal, with a concluding “Back to the groove….”

Each call in the series is a natural progression, yet it is a collaborative in-the-moment process that Arthur and Christine co- facilitated with trust, spontaneity, and levity.


Co-facilitation calls for you to expand the scope of your facilitator radar.

The three elements that you are paying attention to are what the circle looks like, sounds like and feels like. By adding a second person as a co-facilitator you are not only tuning into your circle with your radar, but you are adding an additional element that you need to pay attention to while you’re in facilitation mode.

By adding co-facilitators to the drum circle mix you have created a collaborative triplicity that requires an increased sensitivity by all parties involved.

The co-facilitated drum circle triplicity is:

  1. Your co-facilitator
  2. The circle
  3.  You

In co-facilitation, you are always aware and involved and ready to facilitate at all times.  There is no time you turn your facilitator radar off or put it on cruise control.  Even when the other facilitator is orchestrating the group; you are still the co- facilitator with the same responsibilities of some one who is the only facilitator for that event. It is a level of consciousness as much as a model of physical activity.  Part of you is in that circle with your partner, even when you’re sitting on the side.

Deepening your radar means that you and your co-facilitation partner now have more to pay attention to in the circle, as well as each other, in order to make the right decisions and take the right actions in service to the drum circles needs.  When you are the only drum circle facilitator at the rhythm event, you’re dancing with the circle as if it is a unique living breathing entity that is a more than the sum of all its parts.  When you are co-facilitating a drum circle, you’re dancing with two different and unique entities at the same time; the circle and your facilitation partner.

Co-facilitation is advanced work, so “Deepen Your Radar.”


How do you and a co-facilitator prepare for an improvised drum circle?

I remember working with Arthur for over four hours of planning our first large co-facilitated drum circle for the 2000 World Music Therapy Congress in Washington DC attended by over 800 participants.  Arthur and I met for over four hours planning; which included a set-list of ideas where we divided up a general drum circle format into each of us taking pieces.  Then we practiced doing a shared rumble spin into a shared stop-cut.  However, once the actual drum circle started, there were many emergences from the group. It took on an immediate life of its own!  Thus we abandoned our plan and followed the group using our best in-the-moment co-facilitation.  All the preparation and planning served us well as it established communication, stylistic understanding, and relationship building, which was elemental to building our ability to co-facilitate in the magic of the moment, beyond the practical cues and technique, and certainly way beyond our preconceived plans.  So planning accomplishes visible and invisible collaborative communication.

At the time, we did not have the language we are collaboratively developing and sharing here. But still our pre-planning created the trust we needed to be spontaneous with each other and the circle.

It is very helpful to make plans with your co-facilitation partner, just as long as you agree to throw your plans out the window at the first group rhythm transition opportunity that calls for some facilitation other than what you had planed.  It is also helpful to practice shared facilitation cues together, such as Arthur and me practicing a shared rumble to a shared stop – cut.

Christine tells the story of a co-facilitated drum circle with Mickey Hart and Gabe Harris in the Music In Schools drum circle in City Hall, San Francisco, CA.   Despite the pre-planning, the best facilitation moment in the event happened unexpectedly when Gabe was doing call and response from his djembe and Mickey jumped on one side and did the next call pattern to half the circle.  Christine jumped on the other side and took the next turn for call and response with her side of the circle.  Suddenly they had a routine that none of them could have pre-planned, which was fun, effective, and filled with surprise for them and the circle.


Alternating Facilitation (top), Support Facilitation (L) , and Shared Facilitation ®are the three elements in a triplicity called Co-Facilitation Triplicity.  You use your co-facilitator radar to choose which mode to go in that meets the needs of the group at the moment.  We suggest you practice these as independent models, eventually, as your relationship with your co-facilitator matures, you as a team will go into these positions automatically.    


“Your turn – My turn” for beginners.  Alternating facilitation is where you take turns facilitating from the standard orchestration spot in the center of the circle.

As your co-facilitation relationship with your partner progresses and matures, it is less about whose turn it is, and more about what would work best for the circle and who should do it.

Alternating facilitation is also a way that veteran -facilitation partners can show each other new facilitation applications and techniques.


  • Basic alternating facilitation example – Arthur goes into orchestration spot and does a full group speed up.  At the next transition point, Christine goes into the orchestration spot and does a full group call and response to the groove.
  • Alternating facilitation example of a modulated sequence – While the circle is in full groove, the first facilitator goes in and does a one measure stop and start, 4 measures go by and the second facilitator goes in and does a one measure stop and start. This pattern continues but the facilitators jump in for the stop-start one measure earlier than the last exchange, thus modulating the start and stop sequence to the point that the facilitators are jumping in every other measure.  It ends in back to the groove.

In co-facilitating with Stephanie, Idris and Ron at the Drum Ministry at the Agape International Spiritual Center in Los Angeles, we use alternating facilitation.  I facilitate drum call for about the first 15 minutes.  Upon my completion, I introduce Ron to share a chant and facilitate. When he is finished, he introduces Idris who leads a guided imagery drumming facilitation.  When he is finished, he introduces Stephanie who closes our circle with a drum prayer and release mambo.


Support co-facilitation is where there is a Point facilitator who is usually the initiator and a Support facilitator who clarifies, accentuates, amplifies and possibly expands on the facilitation sequence, but does not take the orchestration spot.  The point facilitator is the one who initiates an idea.  The co- facilitator becomes the supporter.  In the co-facilitation dance, these roles are shared back and forth throughout the drum circle.

Support Facilitator – You must have special radar as the support facilitator.  Your paying attention as much to the groups logistical needs as your paying attention to the point facilitator and the groups responses.  You tend to the circle logistics such as inviting the people in the back to fill in the empty chairs in the middle or greeting new people arriving and passing out instruments.  You may decide to let a point facilitator manage the facilitation of the drum circle; while you support as logistics janitor, greeter and/or rhythm shill.

There is plenty to do in the drum circle, so shared co-facilitation becomes an easy method of one person focusing on the larger picture and the other person focusing on the logistics and details of instruments and the physical set up of the circle – making sure everyone has a seat and feels included.


  • Circle support facilitation – Point Facilitator goes in and does a full group speed up.  The Support Facilitator supports the Speed up with a big bass drum or a cow bell.
  • Logistics support facilitation – Point Facilitator facilitates drum call, while Support Facilitator stands at the door greeting arriving participants and making sure people fill in front seats of the circle first.

At the NAMM drum circle, Christine sculpted a solo djembe player. As he played, Christine lost the pulse.  Arthur kept the pulse on his cowbell and provided the pulse to Christine by showing her the count back to the groove, from his seat in the center of the circle.


Shared facilitation is becoming one facilitator with two bodies who are manifesting trust, spontaneity, and levity to the highest degree.  This allows both facilitators to choose to stand in the center and share the orchestration spot.

DANGER! Most beginning co-facilitators have a tendency to stand in the circle facing opposite sides of the circle with their backs to each other sculpting the half circle in front of them.  Since you do not have eyes in the back of your head, this position does not empower you to be able to keep in visual communication with your co-facilitator.

SOLUTION- Face the group that you’re facilitating while also facing your co-facilitator.  Now, you facilitate the people at your co- facilitator’s back, while coordinating the co-facilitation sequence with your partner.


  • Shared rumble waves – Co-facilitators step into the circle together, face each other, and sculpt half the circle.  Watching each other, they do teeter totter rumbles with their respective side of the circle and play off each other and the group.
  • Shared Call and Response – both facilitators stand together in the orchestration spot and each plays 2 beats of a 4 beat call phrase.
  • Shared stop cut – Co-facilitators link arms and spin a shared rumble.  They count together 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 – and leap into the air to land at the same moment in STOP.

Shared facilitation is an advance form of co-facilitation where the regular boundaries set up for Support co-facilitation and Alternating Facilitation are dissolved into a very mature and trusting co-facilitation relationship where all the models of facilitation listed above are inter-woven and interacting at all times.

At the 2008 Global Sound Conference, Arthur began facilitating a standard full groove switch back between the men and the women.  Arthur initiated the sequence becoming the Point facilitator. Christine was the support facilitator and started facilitating the women as I facilitated the men. When the men were done drumming Christine would jump up and switch the groove over to the women. So we moved easily from support facilitation, to Alternating Facilitation.  Arthur waited a few measures and then went into the orchestration point and switched the groove from the women back to the men. This continued as we “modulated” the sequence to the point that we were both standing in the orchestration point switching the men and women back and forth every other measure until, 1, 2, Back to the groove.

In the above sequence, our co-facilitation naturally progressed from Support Facilitation, to Alternating Facilitation and ending up in Shared Facilitation.  This story exemplifies that the three facilitation Models that we have identified are not static positions and are malleable to any situation that accrues in you drum circles.


The art of in-the-moment communication with your co- facilitator

Remember to sit next to each other in the center seats in the circle and communicate with each other.  It is best to speak in short precise sentences.”  Long sentences don’t work in the center of a noisy drum circle.  But to establish trust, understanding, and a joint co-facilitation style, communication is important in the beginning of your relationship with your facilitation partner.  As your co-facilitation relationship matures you will find that you will need to say less to each other to accomplish more.

Arthur and I are at the point where our words sometimes get in the way. Now most of our communication is body language to each other and the words, “you go or “I’ve got it.”

Co-Facilitation requires in-the-moment planning.  In-the moment- planning requires minimal words and maximal trust.  You are aiming for a situation where both facilitators might go to the orchestration point, in order to make the same facilitation move at the same moment.  That is when you recognize that the two of you are in sync and are sharing the same facilitator muse.


Start with Alternating Facilitation in a co-facilitated rhythm event. In so doing, you introduce each individual facilitator and their personal style to the players in the circle.  Regardless of individual facilitation style, it is important that the two facilitators are congruent with their body language signals that they use for their facilitation at any particular event.

For example, at a co-facilitated drum circle, one of the co-facilitators went into the orchestration spot and wanted to bring in a completely new trick with signs to indicate timbres of the circle.  Because the co-facilitator had not used this technique, it was a stretch to assume the group would adjust to a completely new facilitation communication style. Maintaining congruence between co-facilitators helps the circle master the communication and make in the moment music happen successfully.

Once the individual facilitators have introduced their individual facilitation styles through Alternating Facilitation at an event, Support Facilitation and Shared Facilitation will be clearly understood by the players.  At that point, it is easy for the facilitators to switch back and forth between all the facilitation models as the circle’s dynamics calls for it.


Co-facilitator alchemy is a universal principle of life where collaboration and partnering bring forth ideas beyond any one person’s individual capability.  Alchemy level is beyond collaboration.  In alchemy, both co-facilitators are transformed by the muse and able to bring forth just what the circle needs in a magical way.

Some qualities of co-facilitation alchemy are:

  • Co-Facilitation consciousness; which includes awareness, adaptation and rapport
  • Knowing how to support and lead at the same time.
  • In-The-Moment facilitation flexibility
  • When you are finishing each others facilitation sequences
  • When you are using more body language and less words for your inter- facilitator communication
  • Sometimes you are dancing with your muse and other times, you get to dance with your co-facilitator and their muse.
  • Trusting your co-facilitator, even when you or they have no idea what they are doing next, but they are called into the circle.

At the end of one of the annual Hawaii Facilitators Playshops, there was the usual Inter-island Community Drum Circles.  Don Davidson, Cameron Tummel and Arthur were doing a three way alternating co- facilitation sequence of a series of calls and responses. Each one would take the orchestration spot, do a call, and then jump out during the responses.  At one point we got confused as to who was next and we all entered the orchestration point at the same time during a group response. Suddenly, we had moved from alternating co-facilitation to a three-way shared co-facilitation.  We faced each other looking for clues as to what to do with the next call that was coming up in the sequence. With at least 16 years of playing time as a trio, we all shared the “Call” space by each contributing an in- the-moment note on our cow bells. Not one of us placed a note on top of any one else’s note, so we made a perfect call pattern for the drum circle to respond to.  It was so absolutely perfect, that as the circle played back our three way shared bell pattern, Don Davidson, Cameron Tummel and Arthur stared at each other in disbelief of what just happened.  Arthur counted the drum circle players back to the groove.

For that short moment, the combination of all three of the facilitator muses became the one muse that used us to create that one bell pattern out of our be-hear-now, in-the-moment co-facilitation collaboration.  A powerful moment for every one involved.

When your connection with your co-facilitation partner has matured and is in balance, you will find that you now have created together a third muse that will usually lead you both to a facilitation adventure that goes beyond all your expectations. Enjoy the ride.


This article was co-written by Arthur and Christine using the exact co- facilitation principles you have just read about.  If you re-read the article, you can see where in our co-writing our ideas were created in alternating, support, and shared writing.  The highest development of our co-writing is when you can’t see who wrote a particular paragraph. That is because it was written by our collective co-writing muse.  Two people’s creative muse fusing into one muse epitomizes the highest form of co-writing and co- facilitation.

This article is the result of our co-writing alchemy.  We created it the same way that we create co-facilitation alchemy in a drum circle.

Happy drumming!

Life is a Dance!

arthur the elf symbol