Drumming circle helps relieve stress and build togetherness
What do Ringo Starr, Charlie Watts and Jack McGeady of Palatine all have in common? They are all over 60 and still rockin' out on the drums.
Almost like a mini-United Center, Activity Room 1 at the Arlington Heights Senior Center started bobbin' as folks peeked in to see what the noise was all about recently.
What it was all about was a drumming circle lead by Chris Lavidas, president of Breaking Grounds in Drumming.
"A drumming circle is a group of people of any age with or without musical training that focuses on rhythm, fun and performing stress-freeing exercises," Lavidas said. "The musical therapy helps with concentration, listening skills, alertness and is a physical workout. It promotes wellness, happiness and togetherness."
The togetherness commenced with the off-the-cuff riddles of participant Roy Freeman of Palatine. Once he got the laughter going, the comical banter lobbed back and forth among the eight attendees. It culminated with Rochelle Ogaz shimmying to the beat with walker in tow.
"It's fabulous," said Ogaz, 65, who joined the circle with her husband, Ray, 78, both from Arlington Heights. "You can forget if you're angry or anything else by playing the drums. You can physically get something out of your system."
During the 30-minute routine, folks marched to the beat of their own drum as they were given percussion instruments to follow routines. Of course, a few in the crowd brought their own supplies. One had what he called his "vintage" drumsticks. McGeady brought in his own bongos, a recent gift from his daughter.
"I was a violinist, but I always wanted to play drums," said McGeady, who is participating in his second drumming circle. "It was so much fun the first time, I had to come back."
No doubt, the third time will be a charm for McGeady. His nonstop foot tapping and continuous smile throughout the activity will surely propel him to return to the next circle. In fact, it was such positive responses that prompted Karie Van Grinsven, program coordinator for the village of Arlington Heights, to schedule more sessions.
"It's not something that necessarily has to apply to 400 seniors," Van Grinsven said. "Like our singing group, which has about 10 to 12 people a week, if it appeals to a small group, we are willing to do it. It's not all about the numbers."
Lavidas' drumming circles are very well received throughout the community. He has taken them to mental health centers in Elgin and senior living homes in Schaumburg, Hoffman Estates and Crystal Lake.
"Drumming circles are in high demand because they promote wellness, are a great source of fun and they are exciting," Lavidas said. "They're most common on the West Coast. They're unique and make you think outside the box."
Lavidas explained that at one retirement home in Hoffman Estates, a woman confined to a wheelchair because of chronic pain, actually got up and started dancing as sticks met skins. She said it brought back memories of her youth. Lavidas said it is something he will never forget.
The same could be said of those gathered at the Arlington Heights Senior Center. In true Buddy Rich style, they immersed themselves in the drumming as Lavidas took them through musical therapy exercises such as Call and Response, Make Music, Emotional, and Adapting to Musical Styles. With glued-on smiles never leaving their faces, one might say the camaraderie was tighter than a drum.
Drumming circle exercises
Call and Response: Leader plays a drum pattern, which participants must echo back. It builds listening skills and focus.
Make Music: Participants receive drumsticks and other percussion instruments and must utilize them to play a steady pattern that they create. This allows for self-expression.
Emotional Exercise: Participants must identify either a happy, angry or a sad emotion through different pitches. This fosters problem-solving.
Adapting to Musical Styles: Leader plays a variety of musical styles such as polka, waltz or jazz, and participants must adapt and play the same rhythm. This instigates memory recall.
If you go
What: Drumming circle
Where: Arlington Heights Senior Center, 1801 W. Central Road, Arlington Heights
When: 1 p.m. Thursday
Cost: Free, open to residents from any town; requires no advance reservation
Call: (847) 253-5532