The holiday season is here, and I just wanted to pass along some possible drumming and/or drum circle ideas. My wife and I like to celebrate Christmas. However, we respect the beliefs of others. One of the beauties of group drumming, and drum circle gatherings is that it brings people from all paths together.
Having said that, often the drumming events this time of year are for a Christmas party, Chanukah, another holiday spiritual gathering, or even for New Year’s Eve.
For most gatherings or parties, other than the obvious suggestion to play “Little Drummer Boy”, and other various carols and poems, another option is drumming to some spoken word, like a story or a Bible reading for a Christmas gathering. Drumming to it can be inspiring, and a very moving experience. The only thing is to watch the volume as not to drown the speaker out.
But for the most part, what seems to have worked the best for me over the years is to just focus mostly on the basics...making music. Just help people to get rhythms started, step back & support the back beat of the rhythm. I find that if we just keep it simple - let people play the drums, and make some “in the moment” spontaneous music. Have fun & maybe add a little Santa flair into it. But add in a hint of Christmas spirit here and there. Generally speaking, I keep the rhythms pretty basic, and soft, like the heartbeat, mother rhythm, etc. Many people who do not celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday still enjoy the holiday atmosphere.
If there are some stories, spoken word, or even a Pastor speaking (with permission of course), add some crescendos when it gets exciting and vice versa. Just let the drumming follow the pace and volume of the speaking like in a Gospel church.
As for the atmosphere, perhaps add some holiday decorations around the perimeter. Jingle bells are pretty easy to find this time of year, and are always a good percussion item to have in your gig bag. After Christmas, they are very inexpensive. I got a huge jingle bell wreath last year for a couple bucks. I disassembled it, and made a bunch of cool instruments from it for later on.
One thing I always like to do is wear a Santa hat. They are inexpensive if you shop around, and maybe get enough to give out to everyone. Maybe have a few prizes to give out for people who get in the center and express themselves with dance or movement.
Or, gifts - prizes for the best costumes. Christmas decorations on a few drums is pretty easy, and looks festive. Prizes for the best decorated drums has always worked in the past. People always come up with fun ways of expressing themselves decorating their drums.
For some other great Christmas drumming ideas, last year, Kat Fulton (rhythmforgood.com) put together a fantastic resource of ideas, and suggestions in a recent blog post:
Hope some of this helps to put the groove in your celebration.