About Rhythm-Based Event Facilitation

What is a Rhythm-Based Event?
A rhythm-based event is a gathering where rhythm instruments, including percussion instruments and drums, are used to facilitate specific event objectives. During the event, a trained facilitator will invite participants to actively participate in a series of group music-making and rhythmic exploration exercises that support the overall goal of the event.

Most events can be categorized into three categories: Recreational Music-Making, Educational, and Wellness Enhancement.

What is the difference between these three types of events?

All types of activities are tailored to the target population and their needs and abilities and include active participation and use of rhythmic instruments. These types of events inherently build community, allow for self-expression, and facilitate a joyful experience for participants. They are often blended in purpose to meet the event objectives.

A Recreational Music-Making event is more focused on facilitating a group music-making experience that fosters greater musical improvisation, creativity, self-expression, unity, fun and recreation.

An Educational event fosters certain learning objectives that may or may not be music-related.

A Wellness Enhancement event utilizes rhythmic instruments as tools that support the health and well-being of individuals involved. The focus is less on performance and musicality.

What is a Drum Circle?
A drum circle is a specific format of a Rhythm-Based Event and commonly used as part of both recreation, educational and wellness events. Drum circles can be facilitated or un-facilitated.

Drum circles can be goal-directed or they can be spontaneous group music-making opportunities where the emphasis is on self-expression and community vs. technical performance.

Another type of drum circle is the ethnic/cultural specific circle. In this setting, the instruments and techniques used are defined, and the goal is to practice and perform in the style of a specific musical culture.

In general, the circle format is preferred by many due to the practical aspects of facilitating enhanced communication between participants and focus of sound. Metaphorically, it is also representative of unity, equality, and wholeness.

What types of instruments are used in these events?
Most facilitators have their own collection of instruments for the events they facilitate. You may find traditional world percussion instruments including hand drums, body drums, percussion of metal and wood timbre, shakers and rattles, and even “found sounds” (for example, plastic buckets or pots and pans) or homemade instruments.

Who facilitates these types of events?
Rhythm-based event facilitators vary in musical background. While some are trained musical professionals, others have undertaken specialized training specific to rhythm-based event facilitation.

You may find music therapists, other health-related professionals, and individuals from different professional backgrounds offering programs in their community. These individuals often are drawn to this service because they have had the pleasure of discovering the power and beneficial effects of rhythmic music-making in their own lives. Heather MacTavish is such an example.

What populations are served?
Target populations can be identified by age group, type of event, or, specific characteristics of those served. For example: Some may serve only adults, while others may specialize in children of a certain age range. Some may offer community drum circles to the public-at-large, while others offer the same, as well as providing services to specialized groups such as well-elders, and individuals with challenges.

This site provides information and ideas for specialized groups.

Written by: Giselle Felicia Vivian, BM CHT Edited by: Heather MacTavish

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