Cameron Tummel

Cameron Tummel, M.F.A. World Percussion, former president of the Drum Circle Facilitators Guild, is the lead trainer of the Advanced Facilitator Training for Village Music Circles Global Japan and founder of Drum Tiki. Tomoko “Tomtom” Yakota is the founder of Village Music Circles Global Japan and certified member of the Train the Trainers International training team (VMC TTT).

Arthur Hull, creator of Village Music Circles, travels internationally as a rhythmical evangelist hosting drum circle facilitation training events and is the author of numerous instructional books and videos about drum circle facilitation. You can find Tomtom’s bio here.

Cameron’s bio, videos and music at www.camerontummel.com and www.drumtiki.com. Tomtom, Cameron, and Arthur will all be presenters at the Drum Circle Facilitators Guild Conference in February, 2020, and Cameron and Tomtom will host the VMC Advanced Facilitator training in Japan in May, 2021.

The Language of Rhythm

We communicate through the language/s we “speak.” Language is pitch, melody, duration, silence, vowels, consonants, frowns, tears, sighs, grins, shrugs, hugs and more. I’m sitting within a bamboo floored room at a retreat center on Omishima island, Japan, observing the participants in the inaugural Village Music Circles Advanced Facilitator Training. I cannot speak the language of the participants so the details of their conversation need to be translated from Japanese into English in order for me to understand. During discussion I am merely observing and trying to keep up. But as soon as the discussion concludes and the exercises begin, communication is once again crystal clear. As we drum together and the participants take their turns going into the middle and facilitating, no translation is needed, we all communicate freely; we are connected, we share the language of rhythm. Drum circle facilitation is universal. 

Everyone in this training is an actively practicing facilitator of rhythm based events. Most have been facilitating events for years. Everyone is familiar with Arthur Hull’s vocabulary and concepts and has participated in Village Music Circle Playshops, One Day Seminars, or Professional Development Weekends. Thrilling to be here within a gathering of such experienced and talented rhythm weavers. Many of the signals and sequences they facilitate - the structure and dialect of DCF-speak - are similar to facilitation I have experienced before, but some are wonderfully new and unique, conveying shades of style and intention I have never witnessed.

Aki takes a turn in the middle. My attention is captivated. Aki is one of the single most inspiring facilitators I have ever been blessed to meet. Akinoro “Aki” Sano has severe hearing and speech impediments and needs to work through one or two translators whenever he communicates with a group. Yet Aki spends his career sharing the musical joy of drumming with others. His affect on groups is magical. He is so fearlessly living his truth, in spite of his challenges, that participants gladly join into the music making wholeheartedly. What he cannot convey with his voice comes shining through his face and gestures. He radiates loving enthusiasm. Fearless of his own challenges and limitations, he exemplifies perseverance and infinite possibility. He completes the exercise and sits down. Everyone cheers. 

Life is relationships. Met Arthur when I was twenty years old, became his apprentice for a decade, continued practicing drum circle facilitation for another decade, met Tomtom at the Hawaii Facilitators Camp in 2008, we become colleagues through the global community of facilitators during the next decade, we were selected for the VMC Global Training Team in 2016, and Tomtom invited me here to mentor her developing community of drum circle facilitators in 2017 and now again in 2019. The decades of practicing the art and science of drum circle facilitation have resulted in a career and passion that is globally universal. The more drum circles we host, the more we realize the similarities within all circles and among all people. DCF life nurtures relationships on every continent and in every language.

Watching the next pair of participants go into the circle and co-facilitate, cooperatively dancing and joking together in the center of the ring, the quality of their facilitation is remarkable. Their movements and signals are simultaneously familiar and surprising. I am awestruck by the realization of how recently the notion of co-facilitation has emerged and how quickly the Japanese community of DCFs has woven it into their repertoire. It is an honor to be hosting this advanced training here in Japan with Tomtom and the full support of Village Music Circles. Absolutely thrilled to help curate the development of this curriculum, and to imagine co-facilitating this training with Arthur in the USA.

Through translation I listen to the questions and concerns of the facilitators. Though the words are unfamiliar, the content is universal. We share comments about our challenges, difficulties and breakthroughs. Many of the questions do not need to be addressed by the “trainer” because the “participants” are able to contribute such experienced responses and suggestions. We are all members of the same team, guided by the same motivations. Togetherness dissolves our differences. Our intentions and topics of discussion were aligned long before we gathered together here, so when we arrived, the words and phrases were familiar, even if the accents and cadences weren’t. We didn’t have to spend any time learning vocabulary, just went straight into the co-creation of poetry and song, harmoniously grooving together in the language of rhythm.